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My business has been to give, in the following pages^ 
a literal translation of the six books of Lucretius. 

This task I have careftilly performed ; and it will, I 
trust, be no presumption to say, that he who wishes to 
know what is in Lucretius, without perusing the original, 
will leam it from this volume with greater certainty 
than from any other previously offered to the English 

The text immediately followed is that of Forbiger, 
which may, indeed, be rather called Wakefield's, for the 
one varies but litde from the other. But I have not dis- 
missed a single page of the translation without consulting 
the texts of Lambinus, Creech, and Havercamp, which 
are substantially the same, and, in many instances, far 
more satisfactory than Forbiger's. 

Concerning all disputed or obscure passages, I have 
diligently examined the commentators, especially Lam- 
binus, who is almost instar omnium^ Creech, and Wake- 
field; and have added explanatory notes, respecting 


either the subject matter, or the translation of particular 
words or phrases. 

The words which it has been found necessary to sup- 
ply are distinguished by Italics. 

Where a participle and a verb, having a similax signi- 
fication, come together in construction, they have occa- 
sionally been rendered as two verbs. Thus sparsus 
disficiturwovli be translated is scattered and dispersed. 

The particle jam is sometimes omitted, and where a 
succession of copulative conjunctions occurs, which Lu- 
cretius uses superabundantly, one has occasionally been 
left out in the translation, or been rendered by while y as 
well asy or in some similar way, for the sake of variety. 
Any other deviations from the structure of the text, 
which in the least concern the student, are pointed out 
in the notes. 

Tu and turn, in the addresses of the poet to Memmius 
or the general reader, are sometimes translated by thou 
and thine, and sometimes by you and your. Where 
Lucretius seemed to be particularly earnest, I have 
adopted the former mode, and in other cases the latter. 

J. S. W. 




Of the life of Lucretius but little information has reached us. 
Ad nos vix tenuis famae perlabitur aura. 

That he was a Boman by birth, is inferred from the pas- 
sages in his poem in which he speaks of the Roman world as 
his country,^ and of the Roman language as his native tongue.^ 

Ajs to the time of his birth, it is stated by Eusebius in his 
Chronicon, that he was bom in the second year of the hundred 
and seventy-jQrst Olympiad, or ninety-five years before Christ. 
At this period, Ennius had been dead about seventy years ; 
Cicero was in his twelfth year; twenty-five years were to 
elapse before the birth of Virgil, and four before that of Julius 
Caesar. His st3rle, indeed, would make him seem older, but 
its antiquated character may be partly affected, in imitation, 
perhaps, of Ennius, for whom he expresses great veneration.^ 

Concerning his family nothing is known. The name of 
Lucretius, from the time of Lucretia downwards, occurs fre- 
quently in the history of Rome, with the surnames Tricipiti- 
nus, Cinna, OfeUa, and others, attached to it ; but with whom 
the poet was connected, or from whom descended, it is impossi- 
ble to discover. There was a Lucretius Vespillo contemporary 
with him, a senator, mentioned by Cicero^ and Caasar,^ of 
whom Lambinus conjectures that he may have been the 
brother; suggesting that the one brother, by engaging in 
public life, might have attained senatorial dignity, while the 
other, devoting himself to literature and retirement, might have 

' Nam neque nos agere hoc patriai tempore iniquo, etc. i. 42. 

» L 31; iii. 259. » I, 118. 

* Cic brut. c. 48. * b. c. i. 18; iii. 7. 


continued in the equestrian or even plebeian rank, in which 
he was bom. But all this is mere empty conjecture. 

Equally groundless is the supposition, started also by Lam- 
binus, that in his youth he went to Athens to study, and 
there, under the instruction of Zieno, who was then at the head 
of the Epicureans, became imbued with the doctrines of Epi- 
curus. That he attached himself to the tenets of Epicurus is 
certain, but when oi' where he studied them is not now to be 

Dunlop, however, asserts that "Lucretius was senty with 
other young Romans of rank, to study at Athens." * Thus it 
is that errors creep into biography and history ; the learned 
conjecture, and the less learned affirm. Lambinus suggests 
that Lucretius might have gone to Athens, Dunlop states that 
he did go ; Lambinus says that it is probable, Dunlop says it 
is fact. 

He wrote his poem, or part of it, as appears from a passage 
near the beginning of the first book,^ at a time when the 
Roman commonwealth was in a disturbed state ; but whether 
the disorders to which he aUudes were, as is generally supposed, 
those excited by Catiline, or, as Forbiger suggests, those which 
were raised by Clodius eight years afterwards, there is no 
means of deciding. 

His poem and his life, if we may trust Eusebius, were ended 
in the manner following. " Having been driven to madness 
by an amatory potion, and having composed several books in 
the intervals of his insanity, which Cicero afterwards cor* 
rected, he died by his own hand in the forty-fourth year of 
his age." By whom the potion was administered, is conjec- 
tured only from a passage in St. Jerome, who says that a cer- 
tain Lucilia killed her husband or her lover, by giving him a 
philtre which was intended to secure his love, but of which the 
effect was to render him insane.* This Lucilia is supposed 
to have been the wife or mistress of Lucretius, but by whom 
the supposition was first made, I am not able to discover. 

He is said by Donatus, or whoever wrote the old Life of 
Virgil, to have died on the day on which Virgil assumed the 
toga viriUs, 

* Hist, of Rom. Lit. vol. i. p. 417. * !• 42. 

' Epist. Dissuas. ad Rufinum, c. 22, torn. xi. p. 245 ed. Veron. 


That Cicero corrected what he vn'ote, there is, except from 
the passage in Eusebius, no indication. 

From a passage in Varro,^ it has been concluded that he 
wrote many more books than have reached us ; for " Lucre- 
tius," says he, "suorum unius et viginti librorum initium 
fecit hoc : -ffitheris et terrae genitabilo quaerere tempus." 
But Lambinus has very plausibly conjectured that for Lu- 
cretius should be substituted Lucilius, or the name of some 
other writer unknown to us. This is the more probable, 
observes Eichstadt, as Varro was older than Lucretius, and 
was not accustomed to draw examples and testimonies from 
younger writers. 

From the six books, as they now stand, there is no infer- 
ence to be drawn that more were written. That something 
more was intended is perhaps true ; for when we consider 
how the sixth book breaks off, we must either suppose that 
he designed to write a conclusion to it, or that he meant an- 
other book to follow. He signifies, however,^ that he was 
drawing to the conclusion of his undertaking ; and, indeed, 
the doctrines of Epicurus are so fully set forth in the six 
books, that little more could have been added respecting them. 

It is true that there are two or three allusions among the 
grammarians to passages and verses which are not now found 
in the six books ; allusions which have led to the belief that 
there were more books, but which, with other considerations, 
led Spalding, the editor of Quintilian,^ to the suspicion that 
there were two editions given by the author himself, and 
that, though the second was generally followed, the first was 
not quite forgotten. Thus the 937th verse of the first book, 
which is now read, 

" Contingunt mellis dulci flavoque liquore," 
is cited by Quintilian, 

" Aspirant mellis dulci flavoque liquore." 

And Servius, on those lines in the Georgics,^ 

" Non ego cuncta meis amplecti versibus op to ; 
Non mihi si Ungua; centum sint oraquo centum, 
Ferrea vox," 

' De L. L. v. p. 27, ed. Spengel. ^ vi. 45, 91. 

» Inst. Or. iii. 1, 4. ♦ IF. 42. 


says, " The verses are Lucretius's ; but he has (Bnea vox, not 
ferreai" verses which are not now to be found in Lucretius. 
This notion of two editions Eichstadt has noticed at some 
length in his dissertation, De Lucretii Vita et Carmine ; and 
Forbiger has written a long essay to show that Lucretius's 
verses have been much altered. " Fateor enim," says For- 
biger,^ " ex quo primi^m Lucretii carmen, studiosius perlege- 
riin operamque meam ei navaverim, plures mihi oblatas esse 
causas suspicandi, nobis in his sex de rerum natura libris 
non unius Lucretii, sed duorum scriptorum long^ diversorum 
manum agnoscendam, ideoque hunc etiam auctorem iis annu^ 
merandum esse, quorum scripta a serioribus multis in locis 
mutata, aucta vel contracta, emendata vel corrupta, denique 
long^ alia ab ea, quam auctor ipsis dederit, formd induta, ad 
nostra tempora pervenerint." " I confess, that since I first 
read the poem of Lucretius with attention, and bestowed 
serious labour upon it, many reasons occurred to me for sus- 
pecting that, in these six books concerning the nature of 
things, we have to recognise, not the hand of Lucretius alone, 
but those of two writers of far different characters ; and that 
this author is therefore to be numbered with those, whose 
works have come down to us altered in many places by later 
writers ; having been augmented or diminished in bulk, 
amended or corrupted, and invested with a different form 
from that which the author himself gave them." But per- 
haps, in the case of Lucretius, the variations which we find 
in the verses which are cited from him, are to be attributed, 
not to any regular revision or emendation of his writings, 
but to the casual mistakes of transcribers, and the lapse of 
memory in grammarians. Perhaps also passages, containing 
verses cited by Servius and others, have been lost. Lach- 
mann, the last editor, finds, or imagines that he finds, defi- 
ciencies in several pages. 

The Memmius to whom the poem is addressed, was, as 
Lambinus and others think, Caius Memmius Gemellus, a 
Roman knight, who is described by Cicero*'^ as "a learned 
man, well-read in Greek, but disdainful of Latin literature ; 
a clever orator, and of an agreeable style ; but shrinking from 
the labour, not only of speaking, but even of thinking ; and 

* De Lucretii Carmine, p. 6. ' Brut. 70. 


doing injustice to his ability hj his want of industry." He 
became prsetor, and after his prsetorship had the province of 
Bithynia, to which he was accompanied by Catullus the poet. 
Being supported by Caesar, he stood for the consulship, but 
was unsuccessful, and, after being accused and condemned of 
bribery, went into exile at Patrse, where he died. Cicero 
defended him on his trial, and addressed to him some letters 
which may be found in the thirteenth book of his Epistles to 
his friends.^ 

The general voice of criticism has awarded to Lucretius 
high praise as a poet. The earliest notice which we find of 
bis works, is that of Cicero in a letter to his brother Quintus,^ 
in which he says, as the passage stands in Ernesti, Lucretii 
poematay tU scribis, ita sunt; non multis luminibtis ingenii, 
multee tamen artis, ** The poetry of Lucretius is such as you 
say ; having not much splendour of genius, but a great deal 
of art" Wakefield would omit the non, but is opposed by 
Eichstadt and Schutz, and by general opinion.^ Cicero, how- 
ever, if we read his words rightly, seems hardly to do justice 
to the poet,* or to hit the general character of his work. To us, 
of the present day, he appears to be chiefly distinguished by a 
rough vigour, and to have been anxious rather to express his 
thoughts strongly, than to clothe them in elegance or niceties 
of language. Not that he disdained poetical beauties, for 
Virgil and others have found in him many worthy of adop- 
tion ; but vigour and animation seemed to have been his chief 
aim. Statins did him more justice, when he spoke of the 
docH furor arduus Lucreii^ " the lofty rage of the learned 
Lucretius."* Ovid thoroughly understood his merit, and pre- 
dicted that his poem was destined to be immortal : 

Carmina sublimis tunc sunt peritura Lucreti, 
Exitio terras ciim dabit una dies/ 

' See Lambinus in Prolegom. ' Ad Quint. Frat. ii. 11. 

' Tanaquil Faber proposed to read, omitting the nxm, " lita sunt 
multis luminibus," ^r^., which Ernesti, as Eichstadt remarks, justly 
condemns. Who indeed could endure the expression luminibus Unere f 

* See Warton's Essay on Pope, vol. ii. p. 328. 
» Stat. Sylv. ii. 7, 76. 

• This expression Gray seems to have had in his thoughts, when 
he wrote, 

Chill penury repressed their noble rage. 

' Amor. i. 15, 28. 



Cornelius Nepos * ranks him in elegance with Catullus ; for 
speaking of a certain Julius Calidus, who was rescued from 
proscription by Pomponius Atticus, he calls him " the most 
elegant poet since the death of Catullus and Lucretius.^ 
Quintilian ^ gives him similar praise, saying that he is degans 
in sua materid, elegant in his peculiar department, though he 
thinks him '' difficult " for the student. Aulus Gellius ^ calls 
him a poet " excelling ingenio etfacundidf in genius and force 
of language;" Serenus Sammonicus^ styles him "the great 
Lucretius;" and Velleius Paterculus, ^ Vitruvius,® Seneca,*^ 
Macrobius,® and Pliny the younger,® notice him as ranked 
among the most eminent poets, though without bestowing on 
him any specific commendation. He is recognised in a simi- 
lar way by Propertius ^® and Tacitus. ^^ 

There was therefore little cause for Dunlop to complain of 
" the slight mention that is made of Lucretius by succeeding 
Latin authors," and of " the coldness with which he is spoken 
of by all Roman critics and poets, with the exception of Ovid." 
Horace, indeed, who makes abundant mention of Ennius and 
Lucilius, has, it must be acknowledged, not named Lucretius. 
Dunlop, to account for this silence of Horace, and the sup- 
posed intended silence of others, suggests that " the spirit of 
free-thinking which pervaded his writings, may have rendered 
it unsuitable or unsafe to extol his poetical talents. There 
was a time," he adds, " when, in this country, it was thought 
scarcely decorous or becoming to express high admiration of 
the genius of Rousseau and Voltaire." With reference to 
Horace, and his times, there may have been some ground for 
this supposition. Cicero, in his De Andcitid^^^ introduces Las- 
lius sa3ring that " he does not agree with those who have 
lately begun to assert that souls perish together with their 
bodies, and that death makes an end 'of all." " I rather sub- 
mit myself," he continues, " to the authority of the ancients, or 
of our own forefathers, who appointed religious rites for the 
dead ; rites which they would not have instituted, had they 
thought that the dead could not be affected by them, ♦ * * 
or to the authority of him who was pronounced by the oracle 

» Vit. Att. xii. 4. « Instit. Or. x. 1. » Noct Att. i. 21. 

♦ De Medic, ver. 614. * Hist. Rom. ii. 36. • Lib. ix. 3. 
' De Tranq. An. sect. 2: Ep. xcv. ex. • Sat. vi. 2. 

» Ep. iv. 18. " Eleg. ii. 25, 29. " Dial, de Or. 23. " Cap. 3. 


of Apollo the wisest of men ; and who did not on this, as on 
most subjects, assert sometimes one thing and sometimes an- 
other, but maintained invariably the same opinion, that the 
souls of men are divine, and that, when they are released from 
the body, a return to heaven is open to them, and first of all 
to the best and most worthy. But," he concludes, as if un- 
willing to side too closely with either party, "should the 
opinion of those be true, who think that the soul and the body 
perish together, and that all sense is terminated by their 
separation, death will then be attended with neither good nor 

The modems have certainly not been less willing to praise 
Lucretius than the ancients. Barthius ^ and Tumebus ^ com- 
mend the attractive simplicity of his antique Latinity ; Cri- 
nitus and Casaubon ^ speak of his style in a similar manner ; 
and Julius Scaliger^ calls him " a divine man, and incompar- 
able poet." The eulogies bestowed upon him by Lambinus, 
Faber, and his other commentators, I omit, as they might be 
regarded as the offspring of partiality. 

Our own countrymen have not been behind others in offer- 
ing their tribute of admiration, as exhibited in editions, trans- 
lations, remarks, and quotations. Dr. Warton, in his Essay on 
Pope,* calls the Nature of Things "the noblest descriptive 
poem extant," and has most happily illustrated the poet's 
vigour of conception and execution : " The Persians," says 
he, " distinguish the different degrees of the strength of fancy 
in different poets, by calling them painters or sculptors. .Lu- 
cretius, from the force of his images, should be ranked among 
the latter. He is, in truth, a sculptor-poet. His images have 
a bold relief." " If Lucretius had not been spoiled by the 
Epicurean system," says Lord Byron,® "we should have had a 
far superior poem to any now in existence. As mere poetry, 
it is the first of Latin poems." But the most discriminating 
and ample praise, that has been given him by any English 
author, is that of Dryden :'^ 

" If I am not mistaken," says he, " the distinguishing cha- 

* Advers. zxiii. 1. * Advers. xviii. 6. 

' Not. in Johan. c. 5, cited in the Life prefixed to Creech's version. 

* In Aristot. Hist. Anim. x. 53. 

* Vol. i. p. 50f and vol. ii. p. 105, note. • Letter on Bowles. 
^ Preface to ms second Miscellany of Translations. 

b i 


racter of Lucretius, I mean of bis soul and genius, is a certain 
kind of noble pride, and positive assertion of bis own opinions. 
He is every where confident of bis own reason, and assuming 
an absolute command, not only over bis vulgar readers, but 
even bis patron Memmius ; for be is always bidding bim at- 
tend, as if be bad tbe rod over bim, and using a magisterial 
authority, wbile be instructs bim. * * * He seems to disdain 
all manner of replies, and is so confident of bis cause, tbat be 
is beforehand with bis antagonists ; urging for them whatever 
be imagined they could say, and leaving them, as be supposes, 
without an objection for the future. All this too with so 
much scorn and indignation, as if be were assured of tbe tri- 
umph before be entered into tbe lists. 

^^ From this sublime and daring genius of bis, it must of 
necessity come to pass, tbat bis thoughts must be masculine, 
full of argumentation, and tbat sufficiently warm. From the 
same fiery temper proceeds tbe loftiness of his expressions, 
and the perpetual torrent of his verse, when tbe barrenness 
of bis subject does not too much restrain the quickness of his 
fancy. For there is no doubt to be made, but that be could 
have been every where as poetical as be is in bis descriptions, 
and in tbe moral part of bis philosophy, if be bad not aimed 
more to instruct in bis system of nature, than to delight." 

With regard to the subject of bis poem, Lucretius is to be 
contemplated as a ncUural and moral philosopher. 

The physical part of his philosophy, and most, indeed, of tbe 
moral part, be took from Epicurus, who, as Cicero ^ observes, 
had previously adopted bis physics from Democritus. Of this, 
the great principle is, that nothing can proceed from njothing^ 
and that, consequently, this world, in which we live, and 
every other object in tbe universe, was formed from matter 
that previously existed. How this matter came to exist, we 
need not inquire ; we are to suppose that it existed always. 
In its original state it was an infinitude of detached atoms, 
moving or falling through unlimited space ; for tbat space is 
unlimited is by Lucretius elaborately proved.^ 

These atoms are infrangible and indestructible ; for matter 
is not infinitely divisible ; there must be a point at which di- 

» De Fin. i. 6. « I. 166, '644. » I. 967- 


Tision ends. They are hard and solid, or they would be un- 
able to endure agitation and attrition throughout an infinity 
of ages J They are of different shapes, suited for the forma- 
tion of various substances by combination.^ The number of 
their forms, however, is limited ; but the number of each form 
is infinite.^ 

The atoms were moving ; but whence had they the begin- 
ning of motion? From their own gravity; for all bodies 
move downwards by their own weight.* This is the com- 
mencement of absurdity in the system ; for, if space be infi- 
nite, one direction in it cannot be called downwards more than 
another ; as Lucretius himself indeed acknowledges, observing 
that nil est fundUus imum;^ nor can any reason be assigned 
why an atom should move from one part of infinite space to 

This commencement of motion, however, being assumed, it 
is next to be shown how atoms combined. Had they all 
moved, as might have been supposed, in straight lines, as they 
fell or proceeded through space, there could have been no 
coalition among them, unless the heavier had overtaken the 
lighter. But Lucretius, or Epicurus, had sufficient conception 
of the motion of bodies in empty space, to understand that light 
bodies must move through it as speedily as heavy ones, and 
that, consequently, one atom could not overtake another.® It 
was necessary, therefore, to make some of them deviate from 
the straight or perpen<Scular line, and it is accordingly as- 
sumed that some do deviate from it. " This supposition," 
says Cicero,^ " is mere puerility ; for he introduces the devia- 
tion arbitrarily; he makes some atoms decline from the straight 
course without cause ; and to say that any thing takes place 
without a cause is to a natural philosopher the most disgrace- 
ful of all things. To assert, too, that some decline, and some 
go straight onwards, is, as it were, to give properties and duties 
to atoms despotically, determining which is to go in a right 
line, and which obliquely." 

But when, from partial deviations, some had come in con- 
tact with others, they began to form combinations. They 
strove, as it were, for a long time ineffectually,^ but at length 

» I. 484—635. « II. 94r-I07. » II. 426—580. 

♦ II. 79—87. * I. 992. • II. 225, seg. ' De Fin. i. 6. 

« I. 1023, seg,; V. 188—195. 


the larger and heavier atoms coalesced into the denser sub- 
stances, as earth and water ; the smaller and lighter, into more 
subtle matters, as air and fire. From combinations of such 
substances arose plants and animals ; as trees and worms still 
spring from the earth when it is moistened and warmed. Of 
the rise of animals in general, and of man especially, the reader 
will find an ample account, according to the notions of Epi- 
curus, in the fifth book.^ 

Nature does not abhor a vacuum. On the contrary, it is 
necessary that there should be, throughout the whole of mat- 
ter, certain portions of empty space, or the movement of par- 
ticles would be utterly impeded. Water, for instance, could 
not be a liquid, unless there were vacuities among its atoms 
to allow them to yield to pressure.^ 

Man consists of a body and a soul. The body is constituted 
of coarser, and the soul of finer matter. Both are produced 
together, and grow up and decay together ; at death, the con- 
nexion between them is dissolved ; the soul takes its departure, 
to be decomposed, and mingled with other matter ; and the 
body begins to decay, that it may undergo a similar fate. 

The mind is intimately connected with the soul ; so inti- 
mately that they must be said to form one substance. Both 
are composed of heat, vapour, air, and a certain fourth sub- 
stance, which has no name, but which is the most important 
of the four, as being the origin of motion in the whole man. 
That both are wholly corporeal is indisputable, from their 
power to act on the body : 

Tangere enim et tangi, nisi corpus, nulla potest res.' 

Ideas of objects in the mind are produced by the mysteri- 
ous action of images of things on the soul and intellect ; images 
of a light vapoury substance, which are perpetually passing 
off from the surface of all bodies whatsoever, and exhibiting 
the exact resemblance of the objects from which they are de- 
tached. Other images, too, are formed spontaneously in the 
atmosphere, as we see clouds, at times, form themselves into 
likenesses of things on the face of the sky. Of images, ac- 
cordingly, the number is infinite, so that, whenever a man 
wishes to think on any thing, the image of it is generally ready 

> Ver. 780, seq. * I. 847—383, et seq, 

' On the Soul, see book iii. passim. 


to present itself for his contemplation. If he cannot recollect 
what he wishes to think on, he may consider that an image of 
It is not at hand. Dreams are excited hy images, which, as 
they pass through the air, penetrating the coverings of the 
body, come in contact with such atoms of the soul as are at 
the surface of the body, and thus communicate their impres- 
sions to the whole of the soul and mind. 

Vision is produced by the same images flyiug off from the 
surface of the objects at which we look, and striking on the 
eye. Reflection from mirrors, and other smooth surfaces, is 
produced by the image first striking the reflecting plane, and 
then being reverberated to the eye. Voice, like all sounds, is 
a corporeal substance, because it frequently, as it passes forth, 
causes abrasion of the throat, and because much speaking ex- 
hausts the corporeal frame by detraction of atoms. ^ 

The members and organs of the body were not formed with 
a design that they might be used ; for there could have been 
no design in the offspring of fortuitously meeting atoms ; but, 
as they have been formed, and we find them capable of being 
used, we apply them, accordingly, to the uses for which they 
seem adapted. The feet were not formed for walking, but, 
as we find they enable us to walk, we employ them in walking.^ 

Of all our knowledge the foundation must rest on the per- 
ceptions of our senses. To our senses we can assuredly trust, 
for what shall refute them? Will any thing distinct from 
them refute them, or will they refute one another? That 
which shall convict them of falsehood must be more trust- 
worthy than they ; but what can be more trust- worthy ? 
What shall convince us that those bodies which appear to 
the senses square, or hot, or black, are not possessed of those 

The motions and combinations of atoms being established, 
all natural phaenomena, as thunder, lightning, rain, earth- 
quakes, are easily shown to arise from their changes of place 
and effects on one another.^ 

Even were it not demonstrable that the world was for- 
tuitously formed by the coalescence of atoms, it might yet be 
safely afilrmed, from the numerous faults apparent in it, and 
from the various causes of suffering to animal life which it 

* Of images, &c. see book iv. passim. * IV. 825. 

» IV. 380—523. * See book v. 


contains, that it was not made by divine wisdom as an abode 
for living creatures.^ It sprung into being casually; and 
animals, that casually sprung from it, make the best of that 
abode to which they are confined, and from which there is no 
release but death. 

This world, which we inhabit, is not the only one in the 
universe.^ The number of atoms being infinite, it is naturally 
to be supposed that they must have produced more worlds 
than one. It is therefore probable that there are many 
worlds of many kinds. And as these worlds have been gener- 
ated, we may fairly argue that they also decay. Men, other 
animals, and the trees of the forest, are born but to die ; and 
why should not a world be subject to the same fate as the 
things which grow in it ? We see, indeed, the symptoms of 
decadence in the world which we inhabit ; for the present pro- 
ductions of the earth are not of the same vigour as those of 
its earlier days. All, then, around us, we may conclude is 
making progress towards dissolution ; the great globe will 
continue to sink and grow infirm, until at last, mouldering and 
disruptured, it scatters its atoms through surrounding space, to 
Contribute to the formation of other worlds like or unlike 


Star after star from heaven's bright arch shall rush, 
Suns sink on suns, and systems systems crush ; 
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall, 
And Death, and Night, and Chaos, mingle all. 
Till, o'er the wreck, emerging from the storm, 
Immortal Nature lifts her changeful form, 
Mounts from her funeral pyre on wings of flame. 
And soars and shines another and the same. Darwin. 

Such were the general tenets of Lucretius as a natural 
philosopher ; tenets on which the reader will find him amply 
enlarging in the following pages. 

His doctrines as a moral philosopher may be noticed with 
greater brevity. 

His great boast as a n^oralist was, that he freed men from 
the terrors of death, and of sufiering after death. The soul, 
says he, when it is separated from the body, is dispersed among 
the matter from which it was collected, and the man ceases to 
be. His atoms continue to exist, for they are indestructible, 
but his own existence, as an individual being, is no more. He 

» V. 196, 86^. « II. 1075. 


is separated into his parts, and his consciousness that he ever 
existed as a whole is at an end. Of what has been, he will 
have no recollection; of what shall be, he will have no 
knowledge. Why then should he dread to die, when after 
death no suffering can ensue? He that is about to die 
young, may felicitate himself that he shall escape that trouble 
and affliction of which some falls to the lot of every man ; he 
that die9 at an advanced age, may be satisfied that he has had 
80 long opportunity for those enjoyments of which no man 
fails to obtain some. After a certain period life offers nothing 
new, and why should we seek to prolong it ? ^ 

The greatest enjoyment of life consists in tranquil plea- 
sure. To labour for honour and dignities, which are unsatis- 
factory when attained, is mere folly. Nature has supplied 
every thing necessary to satisfy our wants, and to enable us 
to spend our existence in ease, contentment, and pleasure ; if 
we only study the best method of making the most of what 
is set before us. A wise man can live on a little ; and to live 
contentedly on a little is to be equal in enjoyment to him who 
has more than ourselves, and who, however much he may 
have, can have no solid satisfaction unless he is contented 
with that which he possesses.^ The highest degree of wisdom 
that we can attain, is to be able to look down from the serene 
elevations of philosophy, on the unreasoning crowds wander- 
ing beneath us, seeking for the path of happiness, and vainly 
hoping to find it in the pursuit of the splendours and distinc- 
tions of the world.^ 

Whether he really believed in the existence of gods, that 
is, of beings of a similar but superior nature to ourselves, it 
is not easy, from the perusal of his. works, to decide. He at 
times speaks of gods, like Epicurus, as certainly existing,^ and 
enjoying a state of tranquil felicity, unconcerned about the 
affairs of the world, and unaffected by human good or human 
eviL^ At other times, he seems to consider them as mere 
creatures of the imagination, to which men have attributed, 
in the operations of nature, those effects of which they cannot 
discover the causes.^ 

> Book iii., sub^n. ' » jj. 20— 60. » II. 1—13. 

* VI. 76u In ii. 599f he notices that the earth is called magna 
deStm Mater t Materpteferamm, as if gods and beasts had alike sprung 
from her. * II. 644—651. • V. 1168, seq. 


The first edition of Lucretius was printed at Brescia, by Fer- 
andus, without date, but, as Wakefield and others think, about 
the year 1470. It is of all ediHones principes the most rare. 

The second edition appeared at Verona, printed by Freiden- 
perger, in 1486, and the third at Venice, by T. de Ragazoni- 
bus, in 1495. From Venice, too, in 1500, came forth the 
first edition of Aldus ; and fifteen years afterwards the second, 
superintended by Naugerius, who did more to make- his author 
intelligible than had been done in the former edition. In the 
mean time, however, (1511,) had appeared at Bononia the 
edition of Baptista Pius, who brought much learning and 
ability to bear upon his author, and many of whose notes are 
still worthy of preservation. 

The second edition of Aldus is said by Lachmann ^ to have 
been greatly improved from the revised text of Michael Ma- 
rullus, which was published from his manuscripts after his 
death, by Petrus Candidus, whose name the edition bears, at 
Florence, in 1512; of which text succeeding editors have 
overlooked the merits, or have been unwilling to do justice 
to them. 

But all other editions were thrown into the shade by those 
of Lambinus, of which the first appeared in 1563, the second 
in 1565, and the third in 1570, Of all editors and expound- 
ers of Lucretius, Lambinus still deserves to stand at the head. 
He is accused by Wakefield of tnconsulta temeritas, injudici- 
ous rashness, in intruding his own conjectures into the text ; 
and by Eichstadt, of having had too high an opinion of his 
own judgment and ability ; but though there be some grounds 
for such accusations, his character as an editor is still of the 
highest order. He brought to his work a powerful mind, and, 
knowing that Lucretius always intended to write sense, he 
took upon himself to put sense, perhaps at times too arbi- 
trarily, into verses which had been left meaningless by tran- 
scribers. And it is surely no dishonour to him to have shown 
his contempt for such a man as Gifanius, who, in 1565, printed 
an edition at Antwerp, and whose annotations have little other 
claim to notice than that of attacking Lambinus with the 
meanness with which a low mind always attacks a higher. 

' Prolegom. in Notas, p. 11. 


There were some other editions, but of not much account, 
between Gifanius's and that of Tanaquil Faber, which was 
published in 1662, containing notes, brief indeed, but evincing 
the great learning and acuteness of the editor. 

To Faber, in 1695, succeeded Creech. • His text is Lambi- 
nus's with scarcely any variation, and though he never fails to 
expose a mistakeof Lambinus when he finds one in his comment- 
ary, he is very ready to profit by all Lambinus's instructions. 
I£s interpretation after the manner of the Delphin editions, is of 
little use, for, wherever there is any difficulty of construction, 
he invariably abbreviates. Yet, if we may credit the last 
editor, Lachmann, *' multa rectiills interpretatus est qu^m 
scripsit, in philosophia explicandd sane diligens, sed linguae 
Latinse imperitissimus." This is too strong; but there are 
in his notes inelegances and inaccuracies. 

In 1725 appeared the splendid edition of Havercamp, which 
is extremely useful, as containing all the notes of Lambinus, 
Gifanius, Creech, and Faber, with a selection from those of 
Pius, and with a few, of considerable value, from Abrahamus 
Prdgerus, a friend of Havercamp. Of Havercamp's own 
there is comparatively little. 

At length, in 1796, came out, with a dedication to Fox, the 
well-known edition of Wakefield. Wakefield had discovered, 
by the inspection of a manuscript or two, that Lambinus had 
taken, as he thought, unjustifiable liberties with the text of 
Lucretius, and conceived that he should be enabled to re- 
store it to something like its original integrity. Had he 
been content to reinstate only those words or phrases which 
Lambinus or others had unreasonably ejected, he might have 
done greater service, but he replaced also such readings as 
any editor would have been blamed for sufiering to remain. 
I will give one instance. In Lambinus and Creech the 863rd 
Terse of the third book stands thus : 

Intemipta semel quum sit repetentia nostra ; 

" repetentia nostra," our memory or recollection. This is in- 
telligible ; but Wakefield finding in manuscripts nostris, re- 
placed it as a crux to his reader, who, as soon as he comes to 
it, is stuck fast. What, he inquires, is to be understood with 
nastrisf It is in vain to seek for any thing in what precedes, 
and he must consult Wakefield's notes to find that, according 


to Wakefield's notion, rebus must be supplied. How much 
the difficulties in an author may be increased by such changes, 
is easily conceivable ; but he who has only read Lambinus or 
Creech's edition of Lucretius, can have no conception how 
much the difficulties in Lucretius have been increased by 
Wakefield's arbitrary alterations. Whether Wakefield ever 
"construed through a brick wall," I do not know ; but that he 
has raised abundance of brick walls through which others 
are left to construe, is manifest. There is in his notes, 
besides other unnecessary matter, a vast quantity of super- 
fluous railing at the inscUia and inverecundia of Lambinus, 
and the inscitia and stupor of Creech, of which the reader may 
see an average specimen on vi. 582, and in various other 
places. A man worthy to edit Lucretius should have for- 
borne to apply the term inscitia to such a predecessor as 

In 1801, Wakefield's text was reprinted at Leipsic by 
Eichstadt, who had previously obtained repute by his edition 
of Diodorus Siculus. The first volume, containing the text 
of the six books, judicious prolegomena, and an excellent in- 
dex, is the only one that has appeared. 

In 1828 came forth the edition of Forbiger, which, chiefly 
perhaps from the convenience of its size, has been much used. 
His text is Wakefield's, with but very few alterations, and all 
his*^xplanations of passages are Wakefielcfs. His work, says 
Lachmann, was mercenary ; and it would be doing him great 
injustice to suppose him capable of seeing any thing by the 
light of his own intellect. 

In 1850, at Berlin, appeared Lachmann's edition, in two 
thin volumes octavo. He is a little too fond of transposing 
verses, and . discovering deficiencies in the text, but deserves 
great commendation for restoring many readings that Wake- 
field had ejected. His notes are not at all explanatory, but 
are wholly occupied about changes in the text. 

With regard to versions of Lucretius, the earliest attempt 
to render him into English was made by John Evelyn, the 
author of " Sylva," who, in 1656, published the first book in 
verse, with a commentary. His lady designed the frontispiece, 


and Waller prefixed a copy of verses. The translation is 
foithful, bat tame. 

In 1682 was published the translation by Creech, which, as 
the first complete version of the poet, was cordially welcomed. 
Evelyn furnished some laudatory couplets, sajring how much 
he was pleased that the entire work had fallen to more vigor- 
ons hands than his own. Duke, Tate, and Otway gave also 
their tribute of verse, and Creech was every where known as 
the English Lucretius. But posterity have had time to dis.- 
covei the faults in his performance. Many of his lines are 
vigorous, but many are stifi* and awkward ; and the licences 
which he has taken with the original are ahnost beyond be- 
lief. Whoever will look at the commencement of his first 
book, will find that between the tenth and sixteenth verses he 
inserts five lines of his own. Similar interpolations may be 
found in other places ; and he likewise curtails with equal 
freedom whenever it suits his purpose. 

About the same time Dryden produced some translations, or 
rather paraphrases, of particular passages, executed with his 
usual vigour. 

In 1743 there appeared, in two volumes' octavo, a prose 
translation, which G-ood calls Guernier's, but which was the 
work of an unknown hand. Guemier, with others, furnished 
the plates. The version is but indifierent. Some parts of it, 
though printed as prose, run into blank verse. 

In 1799 the first book was translated in rhyme by an 
anonymous author ; and in 1 808, also in rhyme, by the Rev. 
W. Hamilton Drummond. Both versions have merit, but the 
greater share of praise belongs to Mr. Drummond. 

In 1805 Dr. Good laid before the public his two quarto 
volumes, containing a version of the whole poem in blank 
verse, with copious notes. This translation is in general 
pleasing and animated, but some parts are rather stifi*. Taken 
as a whole it is by far the best extant, and is deemed, by my 
publisher, a desirable addition to the present volume. 

In 1813 was published by subscription, in two pompous 
volumes quarto, the rhymed version of Thomas Busby, Mus. 
D. He is, to do him justice, tolerably faithful to the sense, but 
his couplets are far inferior to those of Mr. Drummond's First 
Book. His notes are heavy and tedious ; and all his learning 
second-hand. The whole book reminds the reader of the com- 


meocement of his well-known prologue, which Lord Byron, 
says Moore, unnecessarily travestied : 

When energizing ohjects men pursue. 
What are the prodigies they cannot do ! 

In French, Lucretius has been translated several times. 
The earliest version is that of the Abbe de MaroUes, in prose, 
published in 1650, which has not obtained more esteem than 
his other translations of classical authors. In 1685 another 
prose translation was published by the Baron de Coutures, 
which is paraphrastic, but seems tolerably faithful to the sense. 
In 1768 La Grange published a third, which gives the thoughts 
of the poet with exactness, but wants vigour and animation ; 
and in 1794 Le Blanc de Guillet brought out a fourth, in verse, 
which I have not minutely examined, but on which his coun- 
trjnoaen set no very high value. The last, in 1825, was that 
of Pongerville, in prose, rather a paraphrase than a transla- 
tion, and preserving nothing of the sententiousness of Lu- 

The Italian version of Marchetti, in blank verse, published 
in London 1717, and since several times reprinted, has always 
been highly esteemed. 

The Germans have three translations; one by Mayr, 1784, 
in prose, which Degen, cited by Moss, calls " pretty accurate ;" 
another by Meineke, 1795, in hexameter verse, which is ge- 
nerally considered faithful to the sense ; and the last by Kne- 
bel, 1821, which is also in hexameter verse, and which is the 
most highly valued of the three. 

The Dutch have a prose translation by De Wit, printed in 
1701, which Good says that he had seen, "but without being 
induced to imitate it." 

I beg leave to observe, that, in the notes attached to the 
following translation, I have not taken upon me to refute any 
of the doctrines of Lucretius or Epicurus. To have offered 
formal refutations of them would have occupied more space 
than could be afforded in the present volume; and many 
of them, in these days, require no refutation. I have there- 
fore restricted myself to discharging that which Dryden ad- 
monishes me to be the duty of a translator, — to do my author 
all the right I can, and to translate him to the best advantage. 

• • • 


Those who seek for arguments against his tenets, physical or 
moral, may find them in Lactantius ; in Arnobius ; in the 
Anti-Lucretius of Cardinal Polignac ; in the Bridgewater 
Treatises ; and in abundance of other English books. 

The famous refutation by Cardinal Polignac, called Anti- 
LucretmSy I might have quoted in every page ; and the reader 
will perhaps wonder that I have not done so. But I for- 
bore to quote him, as I forbore to quote others. He assailed 
Lucretius with great determination ; his versification, though 
deficient in Lucretian ardour, is always respectable, and some- 
times elevated ; and he would perhaps be more read, had he 
not unluckily^ as Voltaire observes, tjohen he attacked Lucre- 
tius attacked Newton, 




Lucretius invokes Venus as the great cause of production, ver^ 1—44. He 
then dedicates his work to Memmius ; praises Bpicurus, whose doctrine 
he follows ; vindicates his subject from the charge of impiety ; exposes the 
emptiness of the religious system of his day, and the fictions of the 
poets ; and introduces/ not without allusion to the difficulties to be over- 
come, the great arguments of which he proposes to treat, ver. 45 — 159. 
Entering upon his subject, he shows, firsts that nothing can proceed from 
nothing f and that nothing can return to nothing y ver. 160 — 265. Secondly ^ 
that there are certain minute corpuscles, which, though imperceptible to 
our senses, are conceivable in our minds, and from which all things origin- 
ate, ver. 266 — 329. Thirdly y that there is va^mum or empty space, ver. 
330—430. Fourthly, that there is nothing in the universe but body and 
space, and that all other things which are said to be, are only adjuncts 
or events, properties or accidents of body and space, ver. 431--483. He 
then proceeds to demonstrate that the primary corpuscles, or elements of 
things, are perfectly solid, indivisible, and eternal, ver. 484 — 635. He re- 
futes those who had held other opinions, as Heraclitus, who said that fire 
was the origin of things ; and others, who had maintained the same of air, 
water^ and earth, ver. 636 — 712. He attacks Empedodes, who said that 
the imiverse was compounded of the four elements, and Anaxagoras, who 
advocated the homoeomeria, ver. 713 — 919. He then contends that the 
imiverse is boundless, that atoms are infinite in niunber, and that space 
must be unlimited, ver. 920 — 1050. Lastly, he refutes those who think 
that there is a centre of things, to which heavy bodies tend downwards, 
and light bodies upwards ; and concludes with a praise of philosophy, 
which assists mankind to penetrate the mysteries of nature. 


2 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 1—4. 

O BOUNTIFUL Venus, ^ mother of the race of -/Eneas,^ delight 
of gods and men, who, beneath the gliding constellations' 
of heaven,^ fiUest with life* the ship-bearing sea and the 
fruit-producing earth ;» since by thy influence every kind of 

* O bountiful Venus.] Ver. 2. Alma Venus. The word means kindy 
bountiful, benignant, nourUhingy from alo, to nourish. " It is said of the 
gods," says Forcellini, '' particularly such as are thought to give life 
or food to men." Thus we have alma Ceres, Virg. Geo. i. 7f alnie 
Sol, Hor. Carm. Saec. 9, besides alma Tellus, and many other similar 
applications of the epithet. Horace has also alma Venus, Od. iv. 15, 
31. And Ausonius has the same expression in many places, besides 
this inscription for a statue of Venus, which he has borrowed from 
Lucretius : 

Orta salo, suscepta solo, patre edita coelo, 
^neadum genetrix, hie habito alma Venus. 

"Others," says Creech, "interpret lata, fanMnda^ grata; I prefer 
he^iigna, a word which expresses all the other virtues of Venus, to 
which Lucretius has regard not less than to her fecundity." 

^ Mother of the race of -ffineas.] Ver. 1. ^neadum genetrix. He 
thus names the Romans, as being descended from ^neas. Virgil 
and Ovid give them the same appellation. . 

' Gliding constellations of heaven.] Ver. 2. Ca}li lahetitia signa. 
The same as signa labentia ccelo, or in coelo ; the form of expression 
which Virgil uses, Mn- iii. 515, Sidera cuncta notat tacito labentia coelo. 

* Fillest with life.] Ver. 4. Concelebras, The only question as to 
the translation of this word is, whether it is to be rendered visitest fre- 
quently, or renderest populous, that is, fillest with animal life. The latter 
signification is, in my opinion, infinitely better adapted to what fol- 
lows, than the former ; and I have the best of the commentators.'on 
my side. Thus Pius : Auges tuo dulci initu, ut ita mvltiplicata celehria 
sint et populosa, Lambinus : Celebres [terras'] reddis, Creech : Reples 
etexomas. These commentators notice, indeed, the other acceptation, 
but give the preference to this. Wakefield interprets " frequentas 
— permeas — incolis — agitas," all which he gets from Nonius Marcel- 
lus, who has " commoves." The word occurs twice in other places of 
Lucretius, but not in any sense that illustrates this passage. It is to 
be observed that the preposition eon^ with, is not to be considered 
useless ; looking to the subject of the poem, we may regard it as 
signifying that Venus (herself material) co-operates with matter in 
general to render the earth and sea fruitful. 

* The ship-bearing sea and the fruit-producing earth.] Ver. 3. 
QiuB mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferentes Concelebras, The words 
are rendered literally, except that for the relative pronoun is substi- 
tuted the copulative conjunction. Evelyn gives it with equal exact- 
ness : 

Comfort bring and mirth 

To the ship-bearing seas, corn-bearing earth. 

FrugeSj however, means fruits of the earth in general. 

B. I. 6-25. LUCRETIUS. 3 

living creature is conceived, and, springing forth, hails the 
light of the sun.i Thee, O goddess, thee the winds flee ; be- 
fore thee, and thy approabh, the clouds of heaven disperse; for 
thee the variegated earth ^ puts forth ^ her fragrant flowers; 
on thee the waters of ocean smile, and the calmed heaven 
beams with effulgent* light. For, as soon as the vernal face 
of day® is unveiled, and the genial gale of Favonius exerts 
its power unconfined, the birds of the air first, O goddess, 
testify of thee and thy coming, smitten in heart by thy influ- 
ence. Next, the wild herds bound over the joyous pastures, 
and swim across the rapid streams. So all kinds of living 
creatures, captivated by thy charms and thy allurements, 
eagerly follow thee whithersoever thou proceedest to lead 
thenu In fine, throughout seas, and mountains, and whelming 
rivers,^ and the leafy abodes of birds, and verdant plains, 
thou, infusing balmy love into the breasts of all, causest them 
eagerly to propagate their races after their kind. 

Since thou alone dost govern '^ all things in nature, neither 
does any thing without thee spring into the ethereal realms 
of light, nor any thing become gladsome or lovely ; I desire 
thee to be my associate^ in this my song, which I am essaying 

* Hails the light of the sun.] Ver. 5. Visitque — lumina aolis. " Ex- 
oritur, prodit in lucem, hac lucis usurll frui incipit.|' Lambintu,^ 

' Variegated earth.] Ver. 7. Daidala tellus. This is the exact sig- 
nification of the word. " Why the earth is called Dcedala hy Lu- 
cretius, as well as Minerva hy Ennius, and Circe hy Virgil, from 
variety of objects and contrivances^ it is easy to understand, since 
daiSa^XitVy in Greek, signifies to vary,** Festus, 

» Puts forth.] Ver. 7. SubmitHt. " Suhmittere" is "de sub mit- 
tere," says Faher, and so says Creech, whom Wakefield follows; 
interpretmg " sends from her lap, causes to spring de sub solo, from 
underneath the ground." 

* Efiulgent.] Ver. 9. J>ifftLso, We have the same phrase, iii. 22, 
MOier Integer et largi diffuso lumine ridet, 

* Vernal face of day j Ver. 10. Species — vema diei. The same as 
the face of vernal day ; i. e. when the spring has arrived. Species for 
vultus, or aspect, Comp. iv. 243. 

* Whelming rivers.] Ver. 18. Fluviosque rapaces. Able to carry 
away rocks, trees, and other substances; of resistless strength. 
Virgil borrows the expression, Geo. iii, 142, " Fluviosque innare 

^ Since thou alone dost govern.] Ver. 22. Qtue guoniam — sola 
gnbemas. Literally, who, since thou alone governest. To avoid stiffness, 
I have often rendered the relative pronoim in this way. 

* I desire thee to be my associate.] Ver. 25. Te sociam siudeo esse. 

B 2 




4 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 26—38. 

to compose on the natore of things,^ for the instruction of 
my friend Memmius,^ whom thou, O goddess, hast willed at all 
times to excel, graced with every gift. The more therefore do 
thou, O goddess, bestow on my words an immortal charm. 
Cause the fierce pursuits of war meanwhile to cease, being 
lulled to rest throughout all seas and lands. For thou alone 
canst bless mortals with tranquil peace ; since Mars, the lord 
of arms, who controls the cruel tasks of war, often flings » 
himself upon thy lap, vanquished by the eternal wound of 
love;* and thus looking up, his graceful neok^ thrown back, 
he feasts his eager eyes with love, gazing intently on thee, 
O goddess, and his breath, as he reclines, hangs on thy 

It may seem absurd that divine assistance should be invoked by an 
Epicurean, who thinks that the ^ods take no interest in human af- 
fairs; but it is to be considerea that Lucretius here writes in the 
character of a poet, not of a philosopher. Fc^er, 

/ Nature OF THINGS.] Ver. 26. Rerumfusturd, By this expression 
liucretius intends not merely the objects of what we call the ma- 
terial universe, but all that concerns man and the world in which he 
dwells. His full meaning is shown in iii. 1085, where, speaking of 
the anxieties of mankind, and their ignorance of the cause of them, 
he says, that if this cause were at all surmised, each, in preference 
to all other pursuits, would study naturam cognoscere rerum ; that he 
might by that means understand how little is to be feared after 
death, and might become one who, as Virgil expresses it, 

^^metus omnes et inexorabile fatum 

Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acheron tis avari. 

^ Memmius.] Ver. 27. Memmiadcs noatro. Properly the son of 
Memmius ; or one of the MemmiadtB, or family of Memmius. Lam- 
binus thinks him the C. Memmius Gemellus, to whom Cicero ad- 
dresses some letters in the thirteenth book of his Epist. ad Fam. 
See the Life of Lucretius prefixed to this translation. 

* Since Mars — who controls — often flings, ^c] Ver. 33. Quo- 
niam belli fera mcenera Mavora Armipotens regit, in gremium qui aofpe 
tuum se, Sfc. The order of the words in the translation is, for the 
sake of ease, varied a little from the original, which, if exactly given, 
would stand thus : Since Mars — controls the cruel tasks of war, who often 
Mngs himself, isc* 

* Eternal wound of love.] Ver. 35. ^temo vttlnere amoris. Virgil 
borrows this expression : Cum Juno, aeternum servans sub pectore 
vulnus, ^n. i. 36. And Pope has taken it for his Messiah : *' And 
hell's grim tyrant feel th* eternal wound.'* 

* Graceful neck.] Ver. 37. Tereti cervice, I can find no better 
single epithet than this. « Among the Latins the word teres included 
the ideas of length, roundness, and smoothness, Hor. Od. ii. 4, 21. 
Brachia et vultum teretesque suras Integer laudo. 

t • 

B. I. 39-n53. LUCRETIUS. o 

lips. Bending over him, goddess, as he reposes, to embrace 
him * with thy sacred person, pour from thy lips sweet con- 
verse, entreating unruffled peace, illustrious divinity ^ for thy 
Romans. For neither can we pursue our task^ with tranquil 
mind, in this untranquil time^ of our country ; nor can the 
illustrious scion of Memmius, at such a crisis, desert the com* 

mon interesVfi 

For what^^^Bmains,* lend me, Memmius, thy unprejudiced 
ears,* and apply thyself, released from cares, to the investiga- 
tion of truth, and leave not, as things despised, my offerings 
arranged for thee with faithful zeal, before they are under- 
stood. For I shall proceed to discourse to thee of the whole 
system® of heaven and the gods, and unfold to thee the first 
principles of all things,' from which nature produces, developes, 
and sustains all, and into which she again resolves them at 
their dissolution:^ these, in explaining our subject, we are 
accustomed to call matter, and the generative bodiea of things, 

* Bending over him — as he reposes, to embrace Inm.] Ver. 39. 
Hune recubantem — circumfusa super. Literally, pourettround above him 
reclining. To make readable English, I was 6bl%ed to amplify a 
little. / 

' Pursue our task.] Ver. 42. Agere hoc, "-Hoc ipsum quod sus- 
cepimus, attent^ et sumrn^ cur^ agere." Lafkbinus, So also Faber. 
Comp. iv. 970. ^ / 

• Tranquil mind, in this untranquil time* J Ver. 42. Tempore inigtio 
— aguo animo. I have endeavoured to prc^Aerve a resemblance to the 

* For what remains.] Ver. 45. Quod mperest, " He calls for his 
friend's attention. By quod euperest, it is to be observed^, he means 
quod reliquum est. He often uses the same expression. Thus lib. ii. 
39, Quod superestf animo quoque nil prodesse putandum. And vi. 
998,^ Quod superestf facilb hinc ratio reddetur, S^c.** Lamhinus, Lu- 
cretius sometimes, however, uses quod superestm the sense of praterea 
or deniqt*e, « 

* Unprejudiced ears.] Ver. 45. Vacttas aures. Free alike from 
business and from prejudice. 

• The whole system J Ver. 49. Summdratione. "jTotft natur^. ' ' Creech. 

' First principles of all things.] Ver. 50. Rerum primordia, "Re- 
rum principia." Lambinus, Lucretius uses primordia and principia 
indinerently, {Forb, ad iii. 263.) for the original atoms, or primary par- 
ticles of all things. Modern cnymists use the term ultimate particles, 

• She again resolves them at their dissolution.] Ver. 52. Natura 
perempta resolvat. That is, res peremptas, as Lambinus, Faber, and 
Creech unanimously interpret. Lucretius changes tne gender to 
the neuter, after having just before used resy which creates some 

6 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 54—69. 

and to designate as the seeds of all things, and to term them 
primary bodies, because from them as primary all things are 

[For the whole nature of the gods* must necessarily, of 
itself, enjoy immortality in absolute repose, separated, and 
far removed, from our affairs^ for, exempt from all pain, 
exempt from perils, all-sufficient in its own resources, 
and needing nothing from us, it is neither propitUted by ser- 
vices from the goody nor affected with anger against the badJ] 
\ y'When the life of men ^ lay foully grovelling before our eyes, . 
crushed beneath the weight of a Religion,^ who displayed her 
head from the regions of the sky, lowering over mortals with 
terrible aspect, a man of Greece* was the first that dared* 
to raise mortal eyes against her, and first to make a stand 
against her. Him neither tales of gods,* nor thunderbolts, nor 

* For the whole nature of the gods, S^c,'] Ver. 57. The passage en- 
closed in brackets is considered by Faber, Bentley, Wakefiela, and 
others, to be out of place in the original. It occurs again ii. 645, 
whence Isaac Vossius thinks it was transferred to this place, hj some 
critic who wished to show that Lucretius was at variance with himself, 
in invoking divine assistance, and yet excluding the gods from all 
concern with mortals. If it were so, the critic probably placed it in 
the margin, from which it crept into the text. Lachmann, the last 
editor, has struck it out. See note on ver 25. 

' When the life of men, S^c,'] Ver.^ 63. ^ ** The terrible picture 
which Lucretius has drawn of Religion, in order to display the 
magnanimity of his philosophical hero in opposing her, is thought 
to be designed with great boldness and spirit." Burke on the 
Sublime and Beautiful, tub Jin, But, as Burke indicates, the terror 
of the picture is produced, not by exactly portraying tne features 
of the phantom, but by leaving them obscure and unaefined. It is 
a picture of the same class as that of the spirit in Job : '* A spirit 
passed before my face ; — it stood still, but I could not discern the 
form thereof: " or as that of* Death in Milton: " If shape it might 
be call'd, that shape had none Distinguishable." 

* Religion.] Ver. 64. Religione. Evelyn, Drummond, Good, 
and the anonymous translator of the First Book, as well as Coutures, 
concur in rendering this word by Superstition. But this is wrong; 
for neither Epicurus nor Lucretius attacked the belief in the gods, 
and in punishments after death, as a Superstition^ but as a Religion, 
It is a Superstition to us, but it was a Religion to men of those days. 
Accordingly Marchetti, Creech, and^ Busby have very properly 
adopted tne term Religion in their versions. 

* A man of Greece.] Ver. 66. Graius homo, Epicurus. 

» Tales of gods.] Ver. 69. Fama deUrn, " De diis fabulse." 
Creech, The reader will find in Wakefield's edition /ana deUm, from 

B. I. 70—93. LUCRETIUS. 7 

heaven itself with its threatening roar, repressed, but roused 
the more the active energy of his soul, so that he should de- 
sire to be the first to break the close bars of nature's portals. 
Accordingly the vivid force of his intellect prevailed, and pro- 
ceeded far beyond the flaming battlements ^ of the world, and 
in mind and thought traversed the whol6 immensity of space ; 
hence triumphant, he declares to us what can arise into being, 
and what can not ; in fine, in what way the powers of all things 
are limited, and a deeply-fixed boundary assigned to each. 
By which means Religion, brought down under our feet, is 
bruised in turn ; and his victory ^ sets us on a level with 

In treating of these subjects, I fear thou mayest haply 
think that thou art entering on forbidden elements of phi- 
losophy, and commencing a course of crime. Whereas, 
on the contrary, that much-extolled Religion ^ has too fre- 
quently given birth to criminal and impious deeds ; as when 
at Aulis the chosen leaders of the Greeks, the chief of men, 
foully stained the altar of the virgin Trivia with the blood 
of Iphigenia. When the fillet, clasping her virgin tresses, drop- 
ped from each cheek in equal length, and she saw her sire stand 
sorrowing before the altars, and the attendant priests, close 
by him,* concealing the knife, and her countrymen shedding 
tears at the sight of her, she, dumb with fear, dropping 

a conjecture of Bentley's, which to Wakefield appeared egregia^ and 
which Lachmann has adopted. I must say that I think the olafama 
to be preferred, as being a word of much larger meaning. 

* Beyond the flaming battlements, 4r<^.] Ver. 74. Extra flammantia 
fncenia mundi, " He pass*d the flaming hounds of space and time." 
Gray, Progr. of Poesy. " Not even the whole world is sufiicient for 
contemplation and meditation in human intellectual excursion, but 
the thoughts often pas^ beyond the bounds of that whole which sur- 
rounds us." Lonffinus, Sect. xxxv. 

« Hia victory.] " Victoria Epicuri." Lambinus, 
3 That much-extolled Religion.] Ver. 83. lUa Religio. The old 
reading was olim, but ilia seems infinitely better. 

* Close by him.] Ver. 91. Eune propter. These words may be 
understood as meaning either near Agamemnon, or on account of Aga- 
memnon, Evelyn and Creech prefer the latter sense; but Faber, 
Preiger, and Good adopt the former, which appears to me the more 
reasonable of the two. It seems natural to conceive Iphigenia, who 
is the chief personage, as simply f ontemplatine the priests conceal- 
ing their knives near her father^ not as considering whether they 
were concealing them on account of her father or not. 

8 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 94-lia 

on her knees, sank to the earth ; nor could it, at snch a 
time, avail the hapless maiden that she had been the first to 
bless the king with the name of father. For, raised by the 
hands of men, and trembling, she was led' to the altar ; not 
thai; the solemn service of sacrifice being performed, she might 
be accompanied with the loud bridal hymn; but spotless, 
though stained, she might, even in her wedding prime, fall a 
sad victim by her father's immolating hand, that a successful 
and fortunate voyage might be granted to the fleet To such 
evils could Religion persuade mankind I ^y^ 

Wilt thou too, overcome by the frightful tales of bards, 
ever seek to turn away from me ? Surely not ; for doubt- 
less I, even now, could invent ' for thee many dreams, 
which might disturb the tenor of thy life, and confound all 
thy enjoyments with terror. And with reason too under 
the present system of belief; for did men but know that 
there was a fixed limit to their woes, they would be able, 
in some measure, to defy the religious fictions and menaces 
of the poets; but now, since we must fear eternal pun- 
ishment at death, there is no mode, no means, of resisting 
them. For men know not what the nature of the soul is ; 
whether it is engendered with us, or whether, on the con- 
trary, it is infused into us at our birth,^ whether it perishes 
with us, dissolved by death, or whether it haunts the gloomy 
shades and vast pools of Orcus, or whether, by divine in- 
fluence, it infuses itself into other animals, as our Ennius' 

' T, even now, could invent.] Ver. 105. Ij as a poet, could, like 
other poets, invent abundance of tales, magnifying the wrath of the 
gods, and inculcating the probability of Tartarean punishments for 
errors committed in this world ; tales that would haunt thy imagin- 
ation, disturb thy peace of mind, and contribute to make thee the 
slave of anxiety and perplexity. ^ 

' Is infused into us at our birth.] Ver. 114. Xateentibua nuinu- 
etur. The same (questions have been asked by other philoso- 
^phers since Lucretius. "Relying on our acquired knowledge,** 
'says Voltaire, " we venture to discuss the question whether the soul' 
is created before us? whether it comes from nothing into our 
bodies? At what age it placed itself within us ? .... Whe- 
ther, after animating us for a few moments, its essence is to live 
after us in eternity ? . . . These questions have an appearance 
of sublimity ; what are thev but the questions of men born blind, 
discussing the nature of light? " See more on this subject, iii. 670, 
* Ennius.] Ver. 118. He was a Pythagorean, and thought that the 

B. I. 119—144. LUCRETIUS. 9 

sung, who first brought from pleasant Helicon a crown of 
never-fading leaf, which should be distinguished in fame 
throughout the Italian tribes of men ; though in addition, how- 
ever, Ennius, setting it forth in deathless song, declares that 
there are temples of Acheron, whither neither our souls nor 
our bodies penetrate, but onfy phantoms, strangely pale, -from 
amongst whom he relates that the apparition of undying Ho- 
mer, rising up before him, began to pour forth briny tears, 
and to expound in words the nature of things. 

Wherefore with reason then, not only an inquiry concerning 
celestial affairs is to be accurately made by us, (tis by what 
means the courses of the sun and moon are effected, and by 
what influence all things individually are directed upon the 
earth,) but especially also we must consider, with scrutinizing 
examination,^ of what the soul and the nature of the mind 
consist, and what it is, whichj haunting us, sometimes when 
awake, and sometimes when overcome by disease or buried^ 
in sleep, terrifies the mind ; so that we seem to behold and to 
hear speaking before us, those whose bones, after death is 
passed, the earth embraces. 

QNor does it escape my consideration, that it is difficult to 
explain in Latin verse the profound discoveries of the Greeks, 
especially since we must treat of much in novel words, on 
account of the poverty of our language, and the novelty of 
the subjects. But yet thy virtues, and the expected pleasure 
of thy sweet friendship, prompt me to endure any labour 
whatsoever, and induce me to out-watch the clear cold 
nights, 2 weighing with what words, with what possible 

soul of Homer had passed into himself Pera, Sat. yi. 10. Cicero al- 
ludes to the appearance of the shade of Homer to him, Quaest. Acad, 
iv. 16. ^ ^ 

' Scrutinizing examination.] Ver. 131. Ratione aagaci. Lucretius 
is fond of this word. " Sagaces propria canes dicuntur^ quia inest 
in eis vis odorandi eximia." Lambimu, The derivation is from 
tapire. to perceive acutely. * 

' Clear cold nights.] Ver. 143. The original is only noctea serenas. 
The critics are afi in aouht what sort of nights to understand. Mu- 
retus (Var. Lect. xviii. 13) thinks they are atunmer nights, Wake- 
field, with Creech, supposes that they are merely tranquil nights, 
free from noise, and suitable for studv. But serenua must surely 
have relation to the state of the atmospnere, and I think that Evelyn 
had a right notion of the word when he gave the passage thus : 

But yet thy worth, and the felicity 

10 LUCRETIUS. B.r. 145-160. 

verse, ^ I may succeed in displaying to thy mind those clear 
lights, by which thou mayest be able to gain a thorough in- 
sight into these abstruse subjects. 

This terror and darkness of the mind, therefore, it is 
not the rays of the sun, or the bright shafts of day,^ that must 
dispel, but reason and the contemplation of nature;^ of 
which our first principle shall hence take its commence- 

NOTHING. For thus it is that fear restrains all men, because 
they observe many things effected on the earth and in 
heaven, of which effects they can by no means see the 
causes, and therefore think that they are wrought by a divine 
power. For which reasons, when we shall have clearly seen 


then have a more accurate perception of that of which we are 
in search, and shall understand whence each individual thing 
is generated, and how all things are done without the agency 
of the gods. 'TN 

For if thiS^come forth from nothing,® every kind of thing 

I find in thy sweet friendship, me persuade 
Cold nights to watch — 

I have therefore added Evelyn's cold to Lucretius 's clear, 

* With what possible verse.] Ver. 144. Qyo carmine demum. 
With what verse at length. 

* Bright shafts of day.] Ver. 148. Lucida tela diei, "Rays of 
the sun. Thus the Gree*ks, fteXri riiKioio." Fdber, Ausonius has bor- 
rowed the phrase, Luciferique pavent^ letalia tela diei. Mosell. 260. 
Mason, also, in his English Garden, ii. 151, " Bright darts of day." 

* Contemplation of nature.] Ver. 149. Naturte species, " S^des^ 
i^^aapia, 17 ^ka, that is, contemplation," Lambinus. So Faber. Wake> 
field would rather make it form or image ; but who will second 

* Divinely.] Ver. 151. Divinitus, Tliat is, divino numine, as he 
has it in ver. 155. He is anxious to show, that however things are 
produced, the gods have nothing to do witn their production. 

* Nothing can be produced from nothing.] Ver. 156. Nil posse 
erearidenihilo. It is to be observed that the word creo was never used 
among the Latin writers of the better ages in the sense in which 
we use the word creatCj that is, to make out of nothing. In all but 
Christian theological writers it means to produce one thing from 
another. Gibbon has a remark to this efiect in one of his notes. 

* If things came forth from nothing, 4f^.] Ver. 160. Nam si de 
nihilo fierenty &c. If things could come from nothing, then, wher- 
ever, in the midst of things, there might be nothing existent, some- 
thing might thence arise; wherever there might be a vacuum^ (for 

B. I. 161—186. LUCRETIUS. 1 1 

might be produced from all things ; nothing would require 
seed. In the first place, men might spring from the sea ; the 
scaly tribe, and birds, might spring from the earth ; herds, 
and other cattle, might burst from the sky ; the culti- 
vated fields, as well as the deserts, might contain every kind 
of wild animal, without any settled law of production : nor 
would the same fruits be constant to the same trees, but would 
be changed ; and all trees might' bear all kinds of fruit. Since, 
when there should not be generative elements for each prO' 
duction, how could a certain parent-producer remain invariable 
for all individual things ? But now, because all things are 
severally produced from certain seeds, each is produced, and 
comes forth into the regions of light, from that spot in which 
the matter, and first elements of each, subsist. And for this 
cause all thiiigs cannot be produced from all, inasmuch as there 
are distinct and peculiar faculties in certain substances. 

Besides, why do we see the rose put forth in spring,^ corn 
in summer heat, and vines under the influence of autumn, if 
it be not because, when the determinate seeds of things have 
united together at their proper time, whatever is produced 
appears while the seasons are favourable, and while the 
vigorous earth securely brings forth her tender productions 
into the regions of light. But if these were generated 
from nothing, they might arise suddenly at indefinite periods, 
and at unsuitable seasons of the year, inasmuch as there would 
be no original elements, which might be restrained from a 
generative combination at any season, however inconvenient. 

Nor, moreover, would there be need of time for the coming 
together of seed^ for the growth of things, if they could grow 

which he afterwards arffues,) something might spring up from that 
v<icuum. Should there be a vacuum in the sea, a man might spring 
from it;- should there be a vacuum in the air, a tree might flourish 
out of it. Seed, or originating particles, would be quite superfluous ; 
simple vacant space, the abode of non-entity, would sufiice to pro- 
duce abundance of entities. The rest of the paragraph follows of 
course. This is his Jfirst argument on this head. I have translated 
fierent " came forth," as being more suitable to what follows. 

* The rose put forth in spring.] Ver. 175. This is his second 
argw/nenir-ixQim. time. If things may spring up in any place from 
nothing, why should they not also spring up at any time from no- 
thin ? 

• For the coming together of seed.] Ver. 185. His third argu^ 

12 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 187—210. 

out of nothing. For young men might on a sudden be formed 
from puny infants, and groves, springing up unexpectedly, 
might dart forth from the earth ; of which things it is plain 
that none happen, since all things grow gradually, as is fitting, 
from unvarying atoms, and, as they grow, preserve their kind, 
so that you may understand that all things individually are 
enlarged and nourished from their own specific matter. 

Add to this, that the earth cannot furnish her cheering 
fruits without certain rains ^ in the year; nor, moreover, 
can the nature of animals, if kept from food, propagate their 
kind, and sustain life; so that you may rather deem that 
many elements are common to many things, (as we see letters 
common to many words,) than that any thing can exist with- 
out its proper elements. 

Still further, why could not nature produce men of such^ a 
size that they might ford the sea on foot,^ and rend great moun- 
tains with their hands, and outlast in existence many ages of 
human life, if it he not because certain matter has been assigned 
for producing certain things, from which matter it is fixed what 
can or cannot arise ? It must be admitted therefore, that no* 
thing can be made from nothing, since things have need of 
seed, from which all individually being produced, may be 
brought forth into the gentle air of heaven. 

Lastly, since we observe that cultivated places excel* the 
imcultivated, and yield to our hands better fruits, we may see 

ment — ^from tuUural growth. If things might grow up from nothing, 
why might they not he enlarged, and enlarged suddenly, from 
nothing ? 

* Without certain rains, 4r<7.] Ver. 193. "Ris fourth argument— troxn 
the necessity of certain bodies for the ntUriment of others. If things can- 
not even grow, after they had arisen, without the presence of cer- 
tain other matter, who, he asks, can he so foolish as to believe that 
they arose at first from no matter at all ? 

' Produce men of such, Sgc,'] Ver. 200. His^if^ argument — from 
the definite size of animals, and other natural productions. If, for 
instance, men mi^ht spring from nothing, why should they not 
spring of- a larger size from nothing ? If they could grow at all from 
nothing, why should they not grow to any extent whatever from 

' Ford the sea on foot.] Ver. 201. Per vada. " Like Polyphemus, 
Virg. Mn, iii. 665, Gramturque per sequor jam medium, nee dum 
fiuctuslatera arduatinxit." Lamhinus, 

* Cultivated places excel, ^c.] Ver. 209. His sixth argument — from 
the improvement of natural productions. If things sprung from no- 

B. I, 211—232. LUCRETIUS. 13 

that there are in the ground the primitive elements of things, 
which we, in turning the fertile glebe with the ploughshare, 
and subjugating the soil of the earth, force into birth. But 
were there no suck seeds, you might see things severally 
grow up and become much better of their own accord with- 
out our labour. 

Add, too,' that nature resolves each thing into its own 
constituent elements, and does not reduce any thing to 


For if any thing were perishable in all its parts, every 
thing might then dissolve, being snatched suddenly from be- 
fore our eyes ; for there would be no need of force to pro- 
duce a separation of its parts, and break their connexion. 
Whereas now, since all things individually consist of eternal 
seed, nature does not suffer the destruction of any thing to 
be seen, until such power assail them as to sever them with a 
blow, or penetrate inwardly through the vacant spaces, and 
dissolve the parts. 

Besides, if time utterly destroys^ whatever things it removes 
through leng& of age, consuming all their constituent matter, 
whence does Venus restore to the light of life the race of 
animals according to their kinds ? Whence does the varie- 
gated earth nourish and develope them, when restored, af- 
fording them sustenance according to their kinds ? Whence do 
pure fountains, and eternal nversjiovnng from afar, supply the 
sea?^ Whence does the asther wed the stars? For infinite 

thing, why might they not improve themselves from nothing, and 
why mifi^ht we not leave them to do so ? 

* Add, too, 4f^.] Ver. 214. Having proved that nothing is 
generated from nothing, he now proceeds to prove that nothing is 
reduced to nothina. To this end his Jirst argument, ia, that if things 
could he reduced or resolved into nothing, there woiild probably be 
instances seen of things falling away and vanishing suddenly mto 
annihilation, instead of all things decaying gradually into their ele- 
ments as they do at present. 

» Besides, if time utterly destroys, ^tf.l Ver. 226. The second argu- 
ment. Things decay and are renovated ; hut how could this reno- 
vation take place, unless there were imperishable material atoms 
from which tney might be recruited ? 

■ Supply the sea?j Ver. 232. Mare — suppeditant. " Lambinus and 
Pareus take stqipeditant absolutely, in the sense of suppetunt or parata 
sunt; but it is better to take it actively, in the sense of supplent or 
subministrant." Creech, Creech's interpretation is doubtless right: 
the other is not in accordance with the drift of the paragraph. 

14 LUCRETIUS. b. i, 233—266. 

time already past, and length of days, ought to have con- 
sumed all things which are of mortal consistence : but if those 
elements, of which this sum of things consists and is renewed, 
have existed through that long space, and that past duration 
of time, they are assuredly endowed with an immortal nature. 
Things therefore cannot return to nothing. 

Further, the same force ^ and cause might destroy all things 
indiscriminately, unless an eternal matter held them more or 
less bound by mutual connexion. For a mere touch, indeed, 
would be a sufficient cause of destruction, supposing that there 
were no parts of eternal consistence, but all perishable^ the 
union of which any force might dissolve.^ But now, because 
various connexions of elements unite together, and matter is 
eternal, things continue of unimpaired consistence, until some 
force of sufficient strength be found to assail them, proportioned 
to the texture of each. No thing, therefore, relapses into non- 
existence, but all things at dissolution return to the first 
principles of matter. 

Lastly^ you may say, perhaps, the showers of rain perish,^ 
when Father -^ther has poured them down into the lap of 
Mother Earth. But it is not so ; for hence the smiling fruits 
arise, and the branches become verdant on the trees ; the trees 
themselves increase, and are weighed down with produce. 
Hence, moreover, is nourished the race of man, and that of 
beasts ; hence we see joyous cities abound with youth,* and 

^ Further, the same force, fire] Ver. 239. The third argument. Why 
does not any one force destroy all substances, unless because they 
consist of different elementary atoms, intimately interwoven, and 
those atoms severally indestructible ? Were not the atoms imperish- 
able, the same force that dissolves their combination might utterly 
destroy them. 

* Might dissolve.] Ver. 244. Deberetdissolvere. Would necessarily 
have the power of dissolving. 

' The snowers of rain pensh, S^c."] Ver. 251. The fourth argument. 
Perhaps you incline to think that things which vanish, as showers 
of rain, from the face of the earth, are annihilated ; but to think 
thus would be folly ; for the moisture of these showers, dispersed 
through the ground, assists to produce com, and all manner of 
fruits. So it is with other things ; the atoms of that which is dis- 
solved increase the substance and promote the growth of that which 
is rising into being. 

'* Joyous cities abound with youth.] Ver. 256. Lcstas urbes ptierum 
florere videmus, '* Ftorere is abtmdare; with which acceptation of the 
word the genitive case suits extremely well." Wakejleld, 

B. I. 257—282* liUCRETIUS. 15 

the leafy woods resound on every side with newly-fledged 
birds ; hence the weary cattle, sleek in the rich pastures, re- 
pose their bodies, and the white milky liquor flows from their 
distended udders ; hence the new offspring gambol sportive, 
with tottering limbs, over the tender grass, their youthful 
hearts exhilarated with pure milk.^ Things, therefore, do not 
utterly peidsh, which seem to do so, since Nature recruits one 
thing from another, nor suffers any thing to be produced, 
unless its prodtuction be furthered by the death of another. 

Attend, noWt further:^ since I have shown that things can- 
not be produced from nothing, and also that, when produced, 
they cannot return to nothing, yet, lest haply thou shouldst 
begin to distrust my words, because the primary particles of 
things cannot be discerned by the eye, hear, in addition, wkat 
substances thou thyself must necessarily confess to exist, al- 
though impossible to be seen. 

In the first place, the force of the wind, when excited, 
lashes the sea, agitates the tall ships, and scatters the clouds ; 
at times, sweeping over the earth with an impetuous hurricane, 
it strews the plains with huge trees, and harasses the moun- 
tain-tops with forest-rending blasts ; so violently does the deep 
chafe with fierce roar and rage with menacing murmur. The 
winds, then, are invisible bodies, which sweep the sea, the land, 
the clouds of heaven, and, agitating them, carry them along with 
a sudden tornado. Not otherwise do they rush forth, and 
spread destruction, than as when a body of liquid water ^ is 

* Their youthful hearts exhilarated with pure milk.] Ver. 262. 
Lacte novo teneras percussa novellaa. "Versus planfe admirahilis, " 
says Faber. So thinks Good, and translates it thus : Each little heart 
Quivering beneath the genuine nectar quaffed. Why he chose to say 
beneath the nectar, I do not understand. The anonymous translator 
has it better : 

From their dams as the rich draughts they drain, 

Gladness and health flow fast through every vein. 

* Attend, now, further : S^c.'] He now proceeds to show that there 
are atoms, the primary particles of all things, so small as to be im- 
perceptible to our senses ; and lest this should be doubted, he asks 
why such invisible particles should not exist as well as the sub- 
stance of the wind, and of odours, and of other matters, which, 
though we cannot see them, we must yet acknowledge to have ex- 
istence? This argument extends to Ver. 329. 

■ A body of liquid water.] Ver. 282. Mollis aqucs natttra, Mol- 

16 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 285-311. 

borne along in an overwhelming stream, which a vast tor- 
rent ^ from the lofty mountains swells with large rain-floods, 
dashing together fragments of woods and entire groves ; nor 
can the strong bridges sustain the sudden force of the sweep- 
ing water, with such overwhelming violence does the river, 
turbid with copious rain, rush against the opposing mounds ; 
it scatters ruin with a mighty uproar, and rolls huge rocks 
under its waters ; it rushes on triumphant wheresoever any 
thing opposes its waves. Thus, therefore, must the blasts of 
the wind also be borne along ; which (when, like a mighty 
flood, they have bent their force in any direction) drive all 
things before them, and overthrow them with repeated as- 
saults, and sometimes catch them up in a writhing vortex 
and rapidly bear them off in a whirling hurricane. Where- 
fore, I repeat, the winds are substances, though invisible, since 
in their effects, and modes of operation,^ they are found to 
rival mighty rivers, which are of manifest bodily substance. 

Moreover we perceive various odours of objects, and yet 
never see them approaching our nostrils. Nor do we behold 
violent heat, or distinguish cold with our eyes ; nor are we 
in the habit of viewing sounds ; all which things, however, 
must of necessity consist of a corporeal nature, since they have 
the power of striking the senses: for nothing, except 


Further, garments, when suspended upon a shore on which 
waves are broken, grow moist ; the same, when spread out in 
the sun, become dry ; yet neither has it been observed how 
the moisture of the water settled in them, nor, on the other 
hand, how it escaped under the influence of the heat. Tlie 

Us for liquid or fluid, as the Delphin editor justly observes. Comp. 
ii. 375. Virg. Mn, v. 817. 

* Which a vast torrent, Bsc. ] Ver. 283. Flumine cUmndanti, quern 
— magnua decursus aquai. The qttem is the reading from certain 
eodicea of Wakefield, who says that Lucretius, in using the mascu- 
line gender, had in his mind the more general word fluvius. By such 
methods any thing apparently inexplicable may be explained. The 
quern should either be quod, as Lambinus and Havercamp have it, 
or we must suppose Lucretius to have used y^um^n in the masculine 

* Modes of operation,] Ver. 297. Moribus. Metaphorically, as if 
they were human beings. 

B. I. 312-335. LUCRETIUS. 17 

moisture, therefore, is dispersed into minute particles, which 
our eyes can by no means perceive. 

Besides, in the course of many revolutions of the sun,^ a 
ring upon the finger is made somewhat thinner by wearing 
U; the fall of the drop from the eaves hollows a stone ; the 
crooked share of the plough, though made of iron, impercep- 
tibly decreases in the fields ; even the stone pavements of the 
streets we see worn by the feet of the multitude ; and the 
brazen statues, which stand near the gates, show their right 
hands made smaller by the touch of people frequently saluting 
them, and passing by. These objects, therefore, after they 
have been worn, we observe to become diminished ; but what 
particles take their departure on each particular occasion, 
jealous nature has withheld from us the faculty of seeing.^ 

Lastly, whatever substances time and nature add little by 
little to objects, obliging them to increase gradually, those 
substances no acuteness of vision, however earnestly exerted, 
can perceive ; nor, moreover, whatever substances waste 
away through age and decay ; nor can you discern what 
the rocks, which overhang the sea, and are eaten by the 
corroding salt^ of the ocean, lose every time that they are 
washed by the waves. Nature, therefore, carries on her 
operations by imperceptible particles. 

Nor, however,* ^ are all things held enclosed by corporeal 
substance ; for there «s a void in things ; a truth which it 
will be useful for you, in reference to many points, to know ; 
and which will prevent you from wandering in doubt, and from 
perpetually inquiring about the entire of things, and from 
being distrustful of my words. Wherefore, I say, there is space 
intangible, empty, and vacant. If this were not the case, 

* Many revolutions of the sun.] Ver. 312. MulHs solia redeuntibus 
atmis. " SoUs anni are anni aolares^ solar years." Havercamp, 

* Faculty of seeing.] Ver. 822. ^ciem videndi. " Facultatem." 

* Corroding salt.] Ver. 327. Veaco sale, " Lucretius has used 
vescut for edax or consuming, when he says, nee, mare quat impendent^ . 
vesco sale saxa pereaa,** Festtts, 

* Nor, however.] Ver. 330. By an error of the press, these words 
are not made to commence a new paragraph in Forbiger's edition ; 
which they do in Wakefield's, and all other editions. 

* lb. He now proceeds to demonstrate that there is a vacuum in 
things; space empty and intangible. His arguments seem sufii- 
cienUy intelligible to require no exposition. 


18 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 336—365. 

things could by no means be moved ; for that which is the 
quality of body, namely^ to obstruct and to oppose, would be 
present at all times, and would be exerted against all bodies; no- 
thing, therefore, would be able to move forward, since nothing 
would begin to give way. But now, throughout the sea and land 
and heights of heaven, we see many things moved before our 
eyes in various ways and by various means, which, if there 
were no void, would not so much want their active motion, as 
being deprived of it, as they would, properly speaking, never 
by any means have been produced at all;^ since matter, 
crowded together on all sides, would have remained at rest, 
and have been unable to act 

Besides, although some things may be regarded as solid, 
yet you may, for the following reasons, perceive them to be 
of a porous consistence. In rocks and caves, the liquid mois- 
ture of the waters penetrates their substance, and all parts 
weep, as it were, with abundant drops ; food distributes itself 
through the whole of the body in animals ; the groves in- 
crease, and yield their fruits in their season, because nourish- 
ment is diffused through the whole of the trees, even from 
the lowest roots, over all the trunks and branches ; voices 
pass through the walls, and fly across the closed apartments 
of houses ; keen frost ^ penetrates to the very marrow of our 
bones ; which kind o^ effects, unless there were void spaces in 
bodies, where the several particles might pass, you would never 
by any means observe to take place. 

Lastly, why do we see some things exceed other things in 
weight, though of no greater shape and bulk? For, if there 
is just as much substance in a ball of wool as there is in a 
ball of lead, it is natural that they should weigh the same, 
since it is the property of all bodily substance to press every 
thing downwards ; but the nature of a void, on the contrary, 
continues without weight. That body, therefore, which is equally 

* Would not so much want their active motion, (as being deprived 
of it, ) as they would, properly speaking j never by any means have 
teen produced at all.] Ver. 344. 

Non tarn sollicito motu privata carerent, 
Quam genita omnino niill^ ratione fuissent. 

The construction of the English appears awkward, but answers ex- 
actly to the Latin. 

* Frost.] Ver. 356. He considered cold and heat as material and 
active substances. Comp. ver. 495. 

*. 1. 366—398. liUCRETIUS. 19 

large with another, «ad is evidently lighter, shows plainly that 
it contains a greater portion of vacuity. But the heavier body, 
on the other hand, indicates that there is in it more materia} 
«uhstance, and that it comprises much les& empty space. 

That, therefore, which we are now, by the aid of searching 
argument, investigating, that, namely/, which we call void ; 
is doubtless mixed among material substances. 

In considering these matters, I am obliged to anticipate 
that objection which some imagine, lest it should seduce you 
from the truth. They say, for instance, that water yields to 
fishes pushing forwards, and opens liquid passages, since the 
fish leave spaces behind them, into which the yielding waters 
may make a conflux ; so also that other things may be moved 
among themselves, and change their place, although all parts 
of space be full. But this notion, it is evident, has been 
wholly conceived from false reasoning. For in what direc- 
tion, I pray, will fish be able to go forward, if the water shall 
not give them room ? Or in what direction, moreover, will, 
the water have power to yield, supposing the fish shall have 
no power to go forward to divide it ? Either, therefore, we 
must deny motion to all bodies whatsoever, or we must admit 
that vacuity is more or less inherent in all material substances, 
whence every thing that moves derives the first commencey 
ment of its motion. 

Lastly, if two broad and flat bodies, after having come in- 
to collision, suddenly start asunder, it is clear tliat air must 
necessarily take possession of aU the vacuum which is then 
formed between the bodies. And further, although that air 
may quickly unite to fiow into the vacancy, with blasts blowing 
rapidly from all sides, yet the whole space will not be able to be 
filled at once ; for the air must of necessity occupy some part 
first, then another, till in succession all parts be occupied. 

But if any person perchance, when the bodies have started 
asunder, thinks that that separation is thus efiected by reason 
that the air condenses itself, he is in error ; for a vacuum is 
then formed between the bodies, which was not there before, 
and the part likewise behind the bodies, which was vacant be- 
fore, is filled ; nor can air be condensed in such a way ; nor, 
even if it could, would it have the power, I think, to draw it- 
self mto itself,^ and unite its particles together without the aid 

* To draw itself into itself.] Ver. 398. Ipse in se trahere, Lam- 

c 2 

20 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 399—421. 

of a void. For which reason, although you may long hesitate, 
alleging many objectionsy you must nevertheless at last con- 
fess that there is vacuum in bodies. 

I have the ability, moreover, to collect credit for my doc- 
trines,^ by adducing many additional arguments. But these 
small traces which I have indicated will be sufficient for a sa- 
gacious mind ; traces by which, indeed, you yourself may dis- 
cover others. For as dogs, when they have once lighted upon 
certain tracks on the path, very frequently find by their scent 
the lair of a wild beast that ranges over the mountains, 
though covered over with leaves ; so you yourself will be able, 
in such matters as these, to note, of your own sagacity, one 
principle after another, and to penetrate every dark obscurity, 
and thence to elicit truth. 

But if you shall be slow to assent, O Memmius, or if you 
shall at aU shrink back from the subject, I can still certainly 
give you the following assurance. My tongue, so agreeable 
to you, will have the power of pouring forth from my well- 
stored breast such copious draughts^ from mighty sources, that 
1 fear lest slow old age may creep over our limbs, and break 
down the gates of life within us, before all the abundance of 
arguments in my verses, concerning any one subject, can 
have been poured into your ears. But now, that I may re- 
sume my efforts to complete in verse the weaving of the web 
which I have begun, give me a little more of your attention. 

As it is, therefore, all nature of itself has consisted, and 
consists, of two parts ; for there are bodily substances, and 

binus, Creech, and others, g^ve Se ipse in ie trahere, Wakefield 
pronounces the Se before ipse to he auffarcinatum^ reclamantibtts et 
remtetUibys multis libris et codicibtu. So the readers of Wakefield and 
Forbiger (whom Lachmann follows) must understand «e, or suppose 
trahere to he used absolutely. 

* Collect credit for my doctrines.] Ver. 402. 

Multaque praeterea tibi possum commemorando 
Arg^menta fidem dictis corradere nostris. 

Forbiger and Wakefield leave these lines without any point ; Ha- 
vercamp puts a comma after argumentay as is necessary, to prevent 

• Such copious draughts.] Ver. 413. "He signifies that he will 
pour forth, if necessary, such a profusion of arguments drawn from 
the doctrine of Epicurus, that it is to be feared lest Memmius and 
himself should gprow old and die, before Memmius has understood 
any one subject or heard it to an end." Lambinut, 

B. I. 422--432. LUCRETIUS. 21 

vacant space, in which these substances are situate, and in 
which they are moved in different directions. For the com- 
mon perception of all men shows that there is corporeal con- 
sistence ; ^ of the existence of which, unless the belief shall be 
first firmly established, there will be no principle by referenoe" 
to which we may succeed, by any means whatever, in settling 
the mind with argument concerning matters not obvious to 

To proceed then, if there were no place,* and no space which 
we call vacant, bodies could not be situated any where, nor 
could at all move any whither in different directions ; a fact 
which we have shown to you a little before. • 

Besides, there is nothing' which you can say is separate 
from aU bodily substance, and distinct from empty space; 

* The common perception of aU men sKows that there is corpo- 
real consiste^ice.] Ver. 423^ Corpus enim per se communia dedicat nee 
Senstu, The common perception of all men, in all parts of the world, 
in all ages. '' This especially Epicunis resolutely maintains, that 
the senses are to he trusted, and never deceive us ; and that from 
the senses all knowledge and understanding of all things com- 
mences. So in ver. 694 of this hook, Lucretius savs it is the senses 
unde omnia credita pendent," Faber. Epicurus establishes the exist- 
ence of corporeal substance in the manner in which Johnson said 
that he refuted the doctrine of Berkeley, by striking his foot against 
a post. This was also the '^ common sense" method of Reid and 
his disciples ; and -which of us all, however we may reason, does 
not act upon it? To Berkeley has been imputed a thousand and a 
thousand^ times that which he never believed or imagined. 

Lucretius adds, that unless the existence of corporeal substance 
be acknowledgea, there will be no principle from which to reason 
on things in general. 

* To proceed then, if there were no place, S^e,"] Ver. 427. This 
paragraph is to be understood thus : Unless there be space, where 
can bodies be situated? and unless there be somewhere vacuity, how 
can they move? He says he has shown that bodies could not move 
without a vacuum " a little before." See ver. 371, teg. 

* Besides, there is nothing, ^c] Ver. 431, aeg. On this para- 

f'aph I have to make these observations. In ver. 433, tertia numero, 
have omitted the latter word. Ever to diminutive is ^ven for parvo 
denique. Shall be eeneible to the touch, is in the original taetua eritj 
Faber explaining tcuftus to mean tacHUtas in a passive sense. See 
ver. 455. Increate the number of bodies, is Corporis augebit numerum^ 
which might be- rendered, increase the quantity of body. Lambinus 
and Creech, however, react eorporum; and I have accordingly pre- 
ferred to put bodies in the plural, and to render the succeeaing 
words, amm m amque sequetur, " will be ranked in the multitude ^ 

22 LUCRETIUS, b. t. 43S-462. 

which would, indeed, be as it were a third kind of nature* 
For whatsoever shall exist, must in itself be something, either 
of large bulk, or ever so diminutive, provided it be at all ; 
when, if it shall be sensible to the touch, however light and 
Melicate, it will increase the number of bodies, and be ranked 
in the multitude of them ; but if it shall be intangible, inas- 
much as it cannot hinder in any part any object proceeding to 
pass through it, it then, you may be sure, will be the «mpty 
space which we' call a vacuum. 

Moreover, whatsoever shall exist of itself, will either do 
something, or will be obliged to suffer other things acting 
upon it, or will simply be, so that other things may exist and 
be done in it. But nothing can do or suffer without being 
possessed of bodily substance, nor, moreover, afford placeyb?* 
acting and suffering, unless it be empty and vacant space. No 
third nature, therefore, distinct in itself, besides vacant space 
and material substance, can possibly be left undiscovered in 
the sum of things ; no third kind of being, which can at any 
time fall under Sie notice of our senses, or which any one can 
find out by the exercise of his reason. 

For whatsoever other things are said to be,^ you will find 
them to be either necessary adjuncts of these two things, 
or accidents of them. A necessary adjunct is that which can 
never be separated and disjoined yrow its body without a dis- 
union attended with destruction to that body; as the weight 
of a stone, the heat of fire, the fluidity of water ; sensibility to 
touch in all bodies, insensibility to touch in empty space. On. 
the other hand, such things as slavery, poverty, riches, liberty, 
war, concord, and other things, by the coming or going of 
which the nature of the subject effected remains uninjured^ 
these we are accustomed (as is proper) to call accidents. 

Time, likewise, is not an existence in itself, but it is merely 
our understanding that collects from things themselves what 
HAS been done in the past age ; what also is present ; what, 
moreover, may follow afterwards. And it must be owned 

* For whatsoever other things are said to be, S^c,'] Ver. 450. These 
observations about adjuncts, and events or accidents^ are sufficiently 
clear to require no comment The observations about Helen being 
carried ofi*, Ssc, are, says Creech, nugae dialectioB, which Lucretius 
would not have inserted, but that to oppose the Stoics made it 

«. 1. 463-488. LUCRETIUS. 23 

that no one has conceived of time existing by itself apart from 
progressive motion and quiet rest. 

Moreover, when writers say that Helen was carried off, and 
that the Trojan people were subdued in war, we must take 
care lest, perchance, those writers induce us to admit that 
those eventSy viz. the abduction of Helen and the subjugation 
of the Trojans, were of themselves ; when time, irrevocably 
past, has carried away those generations of men, of whom 
these transactions were the events or accidents. For what- 
ever shall have been done, will properly be called an event 
or accident, whether occurring to lands, or to legions ^ {that is, 
men) themselves. 

Furthermore, if there were not this' bodily substance in 
things, nor this room and space in which all things severally 
are done, the flame lighted up by the love of Helen's beauty, 
spreading through the breast of the Phrygian Paris, would 
never have kindled the famous contests of cruel warfare ; nor 
would the wooden horse have secretly set fire to the citadel 
of the Trojans by a nocturnal delivery of Greeks. So that , 
you may plainly see that all transactions whatsoever do not 
CONSIST or EXIST of themsclves, as body does, nor are spoken of 
as existing in the same way as a vacuum exists ; but rather 
• that you may justly call them events or accidents of body, or 
of space in which all transactions are brought to pass. 

Bodies, besides, are partly original elements ^ of things, and 
partly those which are formed of a combination of those ele- 
ments. But those which are elements of things, no force can 
break ; for they successfully resist all force by solidity of sub- 
stance; although, perhaps, it seems difficult to believe thsit 

* To lands, or to legions.] Ver. 470. 

Namque aliud terris, aliud legionibus ipsis 
Eventum dici poterit, quodquomque erit actum. 

" Whatever things have occurred, you may justly say have happened 
to certain men or to certain landa (for there is no third, besides men 
and things) ; hut you cannot rightly say that those events were ; 
time, therefore, to which they belonged, is not; nor is there any 
thing «n rerum nahtrd besides body ana space,** Wakefield. 

' Bodies, besides, are partly original elements, S^c."] Ver. 486. Hav- 
ing proved that there is nothing that can be said to exist absolutely, 
except body and space ; he proceeds to distinguish body into two 
kinds, simple and compound, and to prove that simple body, or the 
simple primary particles of all substance, must be solid. 

24 LUCRETIUS. b» t. 48^-612. 

any thing of so solid a substance can be found in nature ; for 
the lightning of heaven passes through the walls of houses, as 
also noise and voices pass; iron glows, being penetrated by 
heaty in the fire ; rocks often burst with fervent heat ; the 
hardness of gold, losing its fimmess, is dissolved by heat ; the 
icy coldness of brass, overcome by fiame, melts ; heat, and 
penetrable cold, enter into the substance of silver, for we 
have felt both with the hand, when, as we held silver cupe 
after our fashion,^ water was poured into them from above ; so 
that, as far as these instances go, there seems to be nothing 
solid in nature. But because, however, right reason, and the 
nature of things, compel me to hold a contrary opinion, grant 
me your attention a while, until I make it plain, in a few 
verses, that there really exist such bodies as are of a solid 
and eternal corporeal substance ; which bodies we prove to be 
seeds and primary particles of things, of which the whole 
generated universe now consists. 

In the first place, since a two-fold nature ^ of two things, a 
two-fold nature, or rather two natures extremely dissimilar, 
has been found to exist, namely, matter, and space in which 
every thing is done, it must necessarily be th^t each exists by 
itself for itself, independently of the other, and pure from ad' 
mixture; for wheresoever there is empty space, which we call, 
a vacuum, there there is no matter, arid, likewise, wheresoever 
matter maintains itself, there by no means exists empty 
space. Original substances are therefore solid and without 

Furthermore, since in things which are produced,' or com" 

* As we held silver cups after our fashion.] Ver. 496. Manu rett" 
nenies pocula rite, I have added the word silver from Creeches in- 
terpretation. Lucretius seems to have had in his imagination a 
guest at a feast, holding up his cup^ partly filled with wine, for an 
attendant to pour hot or cold water into it. They mixed cold water 
with their wine in summer, and hot in winter. 

• In the first place, since a two-fold nature, 4r<?.] Ver. 504. Solid 
body and vacant space must exist distinct from each other; for 
where there is space that is not vacant, it must be filled with solid 
body ; and in space which is filled with solid body there can be no 

' Furthermore, since in things which are produced, 4rc.] Ver. 
512. He has proved that vacuum exists; ana it must accordingly 
exist among compound bodies ; but that which, hounds it must be 
solid, or vacuum would bound vacuum ; and this solid may be a 

B. I. 613-^36. LUCRETIUS. 25 

pounded ofmatter,ihere is faundem.'ptj space, solid matter must 
exist around it ; nor can' any thing be proved by just argu- 
ment to conceal vacuity, and to contain it within its body, 
unless you admit that that which contains it is a solid. But 
that solid can be nothing but a combination of matter, such 
as may have the power of keeping a vacuity enclosed. That 
matter, therefore, which consists of solid body, may be eternal, 
while other substances, which are only compounds of this mat- 
ter, may be dissolved. * 

In addition, too,^ if there were no space to be vacant and 
unoccupied, all space would be solid. On the other hand, 
unless there were certain bodies to fill up completely the places 
which they occupy, all space, which any where exists, would 
be an empty void. Body, therefore, is evidently distinct from 
empty space, though each ha^ its place alternately ; since all 
space neither exists entirely full, nor, again, entirely empty. 
There exist, therefore, certain bodies which can completely ^11 
the places which they occupy, and distinguish empty space 
from full. 

These bodies, which thus completely Jill space, can neither 
be broken 2 in pieces by being struck with blows externally, nor, 
again, can be decomposed by being penetrated internally ; nor 
can they be made to yield (f attempted by any other method ; 
a principle which we have demonstrated to you a little above ; 
for neither does it seem possible for any thing to be dashed in 
pieces without a vacuum, nor to be broken, npr to be divided 
into two by cutting ; nor to admit moisture, nor, moreover, 
subtle cold, nor penetrating fire, by which operations and 

combination of solid original particles ; and, though this compound 
solid may he dissolved, yet the original solid atoms of which it is 
composed remain imperishable. This I consider to be the drift of 
the argument in the text, which, perhaps from some corruption, 
seems not very clear. ^ Lambinus has this comment : '^ Generatea 
things have vacuity within them ; otherwise they would not perish 
or be dissolved. But if they perish because they have vacuity in 
them, there must yet be matter in which there is no vacuity, solid 
and indis9oluble, lest all things should be reduced to nothine^. " 

* In addition, too, S^eJ] Ver. 521. There must be boay that 
completely fills space, or how would empty space be disting^shed 
from full f 

* These bodies — can ndther be broken, 4r<^.] Ver. 629. Since, 
then, there are solid bodies, they must be eternal ; for, since they 
contain no vacuity, how can they be broken or dissolved ? 

26 LUCRETIUS, ' B. 1. 637—565. 

means all things compounded are dissolved. And the more 
any thing contains empty space within it, the more it yields 
when thoroughly tried by these means. If, therefore, the 
primary atoms are solid and without void, they must of neces^^ 
sity be eternal* 

Again, unless there had been eternal matter,^ all things, before 
this time, would have been utterly reduced to nothing ; and 
whatsoever objects we behold would have been reproduced 
' from nothing. But since I have shown above, that nothing 
^n be produced from nothing, and that that which has 
been produced cannot be resolved into nothing, the primary 
elements must be of an imperishable substance, into whidi 
primary elements every body may be dissolved, so that matt^ 
may be supplied for the reproduction of things. The pri- 
mordial elements, therefore, are of pure solidity ; nor could 
they otherwise, preserved, as they have been, for ages, re- 
pair things, as they have done, through that infinite space of 
time which has elapsed since the commencement of this material 

Besides, if nature had set no limit ^ to the destruction of 
things, the particles of matter would, by this time, have been 
so reduced, by reason of every former age wasting them, that 
no body compounded of them could, from any certain time, 
however remote, reach full maturity of existence. For 
we see that any thing may be sooner taken to pieces than put 
together again; for which reason, that which the infinitely 
long duration of all past time had broken into parts, disturb- 
ing and dissevering it, could never be repaired in time to 
come. But now, as is evident, there remains appointed a cer- 
tain, limit to destruction, since we see every thing recruited, 
and stated portions of time assigned to every thing according 
to its kind, in which it may be able to attain full vigour 
of age* 

* Again, unless there had been eternal matter, Sfc,'] Ver. 54K 
Had there been no such solid and imperishable bodies, tilings must, 
before this time, have been worn out and reduced to nothing, ana 
all that we see before us^ would have been a re-production from 
nothing. But this has been shown to be impossible. 

' Besides, if nature had set no limit, ^c] Ver. 552. Had there 
been no bodies entirely solid, and not to be worn away, the dtoms 
of things would, before this period, texata per avom, have lost their 
power to make efiicient compounds* 

B. I. 566^-592, LUCRETIUS. 27 

To this is added,^ that though the primarp particles of mat- 
ter are perfectly fiolid^ yet that all things, which are formed of 
^em, may he rendered soft and yielding^ as air, water, earth, 
fire (in whatever way they may he produced, and by what- 
ever influence they may be directed) ; but this happens be- 
cause there is vacant space intermingled with the substance of 
things compounded. But, on the other hand, if the primordial 
elements of things were soft, how strong flints and iron could 
be produced, no explanation could be given, for, by this 
supposition^ nature will be deprived of all possibility of com- 
mencing a foundation. The primordial dements^ therefore, 
are endowed with pure solidity ; by the dense combination of 
which all compound bodies may be closely compacted, and 
exhibit powerful strength. n 

Moreover, if you still persist^ to say that no limit has been 
appointed to the dissolution of bodies, you will then, however, 
have to allow that there must remain certain dissoluble bodies 
in the world, which have not yet been assailed with any trial 
of their strengths But since dissoluble bodies are endued only 
with a fragile nature, it is inconsistent to suppose that they 
could have lasted through an infinite course of time, if they 
had been harassed, age after age, with innumerable assaults. 

Further, since also a limit ^ has been assigned for the growth 
t>f things according to their kinds, and for their support of 
life ; and since it is established by the laws of Nature what 
each kind can or cannot do ; and since nothing is changed, but 
all things remain constant to such a degree, that even the 
birds of different plumage, all in succession, show, existing 
upon their bodies, spots distinctive of their species 5 we must 

* To this is added, ^c] Ver. 5QQ. The original atoms are not 
the less solid because soft bodies are formed from them, for this is 
effected by the intermixture of vacuum ; were they in themselves 
soft, how would hard bodies he generated from them ? 

' Moreover, if you still persisty 4r<?-] Ver. 578. But if vou will 
not allow there is a limit to dissolution, you must then allow that 
there are dissoluble bodies which have not yet been assailed by any 
power sufficient to destroy them ; hut to conceive that such bodies 
existj and that they have not been attacked, among all the changes 
in things since the beginning of time^ by any force sufficient to take 
effect on them^ is to suppose that which is scarcely credible. 

• Further, since also a limit, ^c] Ver. 585 — 599. The uniform 
generation of natural productions must proceed from unvarying 

28 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 693—605. 

grant that such bodies must have in them ^ an immutable ma- 
terial substance. For if the primitive particles of things 
could be changed, by being successfully wrought upon in any 
way, it would then ^so become uncertain what might or might 
not arise into being; it would be uncertain^ moreover, how far 
limited power, and a firmly fixed boundary, is set to each kind; 
nor, with such a possibility of alteration, would the tribes of 
animalsy according to their kinds, be so constantly able to re- 
produce the nature, motions, mode of life, and habits of their 

Again, since even of such a body as our senses cannot per- 
ceive,^ there is yet a certain extreme point, whatever it be, 
that point certainly exists without parts, and consists of the 
least possible natural substance ; nor has it ever existed of it- 
self, apart from its body, nor will it hereafter be able so to 
exist, since it is itself the first and last part ' of another body; 

* T^e must grant that such bodies must have in them.l Ver. 592, 
&e. TmmutabiU materia gttoqiie corptis habere Dehent nimirum. Or, 
Such bodies must evidently have in them. I have frequently rendered 
nimirum by evidently. " Successfully wrought upon." Bevicta : 
i. e. " vicissim victa, et superata." lAimbinus, 

' Again, since even of such a body as our senses cannot per- 
ceive, S^c,"] Ver. 600. Turn porrOy quoniam est extremum guodque caeu- 
men, &c. He now proceeds to confute those who think that matter 
is infinitely divisible, asserting^ that there must he, at the extremi- 
ties of the smallest conceivable body, apices, or points, which you 
cannot conceive possible to be detached from that body, and widi- 
out which you cannot conceive the body to exist. " Which t^nees, 
or least of things," says £vel3m, " may haply prove a notion to be 
hardly denied, wnether physically or mathematically taken, as the 
much-admired Gassendus largely demonstrates, where he speidcs, 
de non esse magnitudinem Epicuro in^niti dividuam, whither I reier the 
curious." These smallest conceivable corpuscles, from which no 
points can be detached, and which, in consequence, are indestnio- 
tible and everlasting, are the atoms of £{)icuru8 and Lucretius, from 
which all things are generated ; into which all things, in their turn, 
are dissolved ; and from which all natural productions that exist, 
are, as long as their existence is protracted, recruited and repaired. 

' First and last part.] Ver. 605. Parsprimaque et ima, "Id est, 
et prima atque ultima." Lambinus, And so £velyn : 

Since what we name 

The first, or last, in bodies is the same. 

The extreme^ point of a body is the first part of it, if you reckon 
from that point to the interior of the body ; and the last part of it, 
if you reckon ftom the interior outwards to that point. Had it not 

B. 1. 606— 6ia LUCRETIUS. 29 

after which other and other like parts in succession fill up, in 
a condensed mass, the substance of the bodj, which parts, 
since they cannot consist by themselves, must of necessity 
adhere to something else, from which they can by no means be 

Primordial atoms are therefore of pure solidity, which, 
composed of the smallest points, closely cohere ; not combined 
of a union of ai^y other things, but rather endowed witli an 
eternal, simple, and indissoluble existence, from which nature 
allows nothing to be broken off, or even diminished, reserving 
these primordial atoms as seeds for her productions. 

Moreover, unless there shall be some least, ^ some point 

been for the authority of Lamhinus, I was inclined to render it the 
ultimate and least part, 

* Moreover, unless there shall he some least, Psc.l Ver. 617. 
Praterea, nisi erit minimum. It is observed by Locke, (Essay, 
book ii. chap. 23, § 81.) that " the infinite divisibility of matter^ 
-whether we grant or deny it, involves us in inexplicable conse- 
quences." If we allow that matter, that is, any portion of matter, 
is infinitely divisible, we admit that sl finite body contains an infinite 
number of parts ; if we affirm that it is not innnitely divisible, we 
say, that arter a certain number of divisions, we come to a por- 
tion of matter which has no parts ; for that which^ has parts 
must be divisible into those parts. (See Reid's Inquiry into the 
Human Mind.) From this dimculty Uie Epicureans cleared them- 
selves, by assertinpf that there are certain least possible quantities 
of matter ; quantities which are of course indivisible', and which 
are the atoms of which all things are constituted. '^ Observe," 
says Ba^rle, (Art. Zeno, note G,) *' that those who espouse the 
hjrpothesis of atoms, do not do it because they apprehend . that 
an extended body may be simple, but because they believe 
* • other hypotheses to be impossible." This is the case with 
Lucretius ; ne says that there have from the first been atoms, into 
which matter may be divided, but which cannot themselves be 
divided ; and were there not such atoms, he asks, or were there no 
limit to the division of matter, how could substances be kept dis- 
tinct, or how could things be preserved at all? How far the dis- 
coveries of modern chemistry uphold the hypothesis of atoms, is 
well known. See infrct^ on ver. 626. 

Sir Isaac Newton admitted the same sort of atoms as Epicurus, 
referring their origination, however, to an Almighty ^ower. " It 
seems jwrobable," says he, " that God, in the beginning, formed 
matter in solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable particles, of 
such sizes, figures, and with such other properties, and m such pro- 
portion to space, as most conduced to the end for which he formed 
them. And that these primitive particles, being solid, are incompar- 
ably harder than any porous body compounded of them ; even so 

30 LUCRETIUS. ». i. 617-627. 

%ohere division ends, the smallest bodies will individually con- 
sist of infinite parts, as, in that case, ant/ part of the half of 
any hody^ will always have its own half; nor will any thing 
set a limit to this ^vision. What, therefore, will be the ^M^- 
ference in their nature between the greatest and smallest of 
bodies ? ^ It will not be possible that there should be any 
difference ; for though the whole entire sum of things,^ or the 
Universe, be infinite, yet the smallest things which exist in it 
will equally consist of infinite parts. To which position since 
just reasoning is opposed, and denies that the mind can ad*> 
rait it, you must be prevailed upon to acknowledge that there 
are bodies which exist having no parts,* and consist of the 
least possible substance ; and since they are so, since they 

very hard as never to wear or break in pieces." Note on Good's 
Lucretius, book i. ver. 536. 

* ^ny part of the half of any body, arc] Ver. 618. DimiduB partu 
para, Preigerus observes that Lucretius does not sav tohat part of the 
halfy and therefore suspects the reading. It would be easy to un- 
derstand dimidia with para, and say the half of the half, but this I 
have not ventured to do. Creech, in his interpretation, abbreviates, 
according to his custom when there is any difficulty, and says Di- 
midia para semper haberet dimidiam partem, 

^ Difference — between the greatest and smallest of bodies ?] 
Ver. 620. Ergo rerum inter aummam minimamgue quid eacit t Preige- 
rus understands aummam rerum ; what will be the difference between 
the universe and the smallest of objects? And this suits very well 
with what follows. I have, however, thought it safer to adhere to 
Creech, who interprets inter rem maximum et minimam* Either sense 
is equally illustrative of the argument. 

What difference would there be 

Betwixt the leaat and greateat quan title ? 


If there be no limit to the division of matter, the smallest quantity, 
and the gpreatest, will be equally divisible into an infinite number 
of parts. 
' Whole entire sum of things.] Ver. 621. Funditua omnis aumma, 

* There are bodies which exist having no parts.] Ver. 626. Eaae 
ea, qu€e nullia Jam pradita partibua extent. Here Lucretius means 
physical or material parts or points ; there are corpuscles, he says, 
which have no material parts, that is, no parts which can be separ- 
ated from them, so as to exist of themselves. Where he says above, 
ver. 606, that alia aigue aliae aimilea partea make up an atom, he 
means the same material parts ; not mathematical pointa, as Creech 
interprets it ; for no number of mathematical points, which are mere 
suppositions and non-entities, can make a substance. 

B. 1. 628—636. LUCRETIUS. 31 

are indivisible and undiminishable, you must also concede that 
thej are solid and eternal. 

Further, unless Nature, the producer of things, had been 
accustomed to force all things to be resolved into minutest 
parts, the same -Nature would now be unable to recruit any 
thing from those parts; because those generated bodies which 
are augmented and repaired by no parts, ^ cannot have and re- 
tain unimpaired those affections which generative matter ought 
to have, namely, various connexions, weights, concussions, 
combinations, movements, by which things are severally 
brought to pass. 

For which reason, those who think that fire^ is the original 

' Because those generated bodies which are augmented and repaired 
by no parts, iscJ] Ver. 632. Prcpterea, quia qwe nullia eunt partibus 
aucta. I have endeavoured to make the best of these words, and 
to translate them as seemed most suitable to the drift of the author. 
All editions from Lambinus to Wakefield read muUia ; which was 
Lambinus's conjecture. Wakefield ** restored " nulUe ; saying that- 
by bodies rmllis partibus aucta, Lucretius means such as are in some 
degree opposed to atoms, as being, though simplicia, yet grandiusctila, 
and therefore gignendis rebus minus apta ; an explanation which does 
not satisfy even his satellite, Forbiger, and which decidedly, I think, 
will satis^ no one else ; for it introduces bodies to which no allusion 
is made m any other passage of Lucretius, and for which it would 
be hard to find authority in any thing that remains to us of Epicu- 
rus. All the translators seem to have followed the reading multis 
partibus; even Good deserts his master, and gives "still of parts 
possest." Lachmann, I am glad to see, has reinstated muUis^ 
thinking the sense of Lambinus better than the nonsense of the 
old copies, of which Wakefield was so enamoured. Drummond, 
following Lambinus, renders the passage thus : 

Did Nature, from whose bosom things evolve, 
Ne]er into points their various forms dissolve, 
Vain were ner art, and vain her plastic care 
Aught of her moulderine^ ruins to repair ; 
For vain were compounds, as they ne'er comprise 
Due motion, weight, connexion, fx>rm, and size, 
Th* essential properties whence all began, 
Or to repair or renovate the plan. 

Gifanius conjectured gwe ullis, which, notwithstanding tlie hiatus, 
is perhaps the true reading. 

^ For ^hich reason, those who think that fire, 4r<?-] As nobody 
is now likely tp be misled by Heraclitus, to believe nre the origin 
of all things, we need bestow little comment upon his doctrine. 
The reader may consult, if he pleases, the Ninth Book of Diogenes 
Laertius. As Lucretius alludes, to a power to touch the ear agree- 

32 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 637—661. 

principle of things, and that the universe is maintained from 
fire alone, seem to have greatly erred from true reason. Of 
which philosophers Heraclitus, as leader, first comes to the 
battle ; a writer celebrated for the obscurity of his language, 
though rather among the vain and empty, than among the 
sensible Greeks, who seek for truth. For fools rather ad- 
mire and delight in all things which they see hid under in- 
versions and intricacies of words, and consider those assertions 
to he truths which have power to touch the ear agreeably, and 
which are disguised with pleasantness of sound. 

For how, I ask, could things be so various, if they were 
produced from fire alone and pure from mixture f Since it 
would be to no purpose that hot fire should be condensed or 
rarefied, if the parts of fire retained the same nature which 
the whole of fire still has.' For though there might be a 
fiercer heat in the condensed parts, and a more languid warmth 
in the separated and dispersed, there is nothing more than 
this which you can conceive possible to be effected morhy 
such causes ; much less can so vast a variety of things originate 
from dense and rare fire. And this also is to he home in 
mind, that if they admit vacuity to be mixed with things, fire 
will then have the capability to be condensed, or left rare- 
fied ; but because they see that, in this admission of vacuity, 
there are many things adverse to them and their doctrines, 
and therefore shrink from admitting a pure vacuum to exist 
among substances, they thus, while they fear difficulties, lose 
the true path, nor observe that, on the other hand, all vacuity 
being removed from substances,^ all things would be condensed, 

ably, bellt tangere aures, it might be supposed that Heraclitus, though 
obscure, wrote with some degree of elegance, but I no where find 
this mentioned. 

* Fire still has.] Ver. 650. Habet super ignis, " Super : etiam, 
porro ; t^ee Trpof." Wakefield. 

* All vacuity being removed from substances.] Ver. 661. 

Nee rursum cernunt exemptum rebus inane, 
Omnia denseri, fierique ex omnibus unum 
Corpus — 

Exemptum rebus inane is Wakefield's reading, which he explains, but 
I wish he had explained his explanation, Forbiger .adopts the read- 
ing tacitly, and forbears from attempting to interpret. If there 
is any construction to be given to the words, it must be that of 
the Greek nominative or accusative absolute. Lambinus, and his 

B. I. 662—676. LUCRETIUS. 33 

and one body would be fonned from all, which body could 
eject nothing from itself, as glowing fire emits light and heat, 
in such a manner that you may see it does not cpnsist of con- 
densed parts. 

But if they think that fire may by any means be extinguished 
in close condensation, and change its natural consistence, and 
ify indeed, they shall not hesitate to allow that this may take 
place absolutely,^ then all heat, it is evident, will fall utterly 
to nothing, and whatever things are r^-produced, supposing 
all to have been prodticed from JirCy will be made out of no- 
thing. For whatever, being changed, departs from its own 
limits,^ this change in it is straightway the death or termin- 
ation of that which it was before. Something, therefore, 
supposing we admit their doctrine, must necessarily remain un- 
changed in that^rc of theirs, that all things, as you may see, 
may not utterly fall to nothing,^ and that the multitude of 
objects in the universe mtij not have-to-fiourish by being 
reproduced from nothing. 

And now, therefore, since there are certain most con- 

followers, read exempto rebus inani, which Lachmann has restored. 
Compare ver. 743. For mittere rapiim, a little below, I have given 
gimply pect 

* Iff indeed, they shall not hesitate to allow — absolutely.] Ver. 
668. Scilicet ex null&facete id H parte reparcent. " If, forsooth, they 
do not at all withhold admission from this, but allow that fire may 
be altogether extinguished, and, losing its own nature, may pass 
into another, it is all over with the philosophy of Heraclitus." 

' For whatever, being changed, departs from its own limits, 4rc.] 
Ver. 671. 

Nam -quodcunque suis mutatum finibus exit, 
Continuo hoc mors est illius quod fiiit ante. 

These lines pleased Lucretius so well that he repeated them three 
times ; i. 792 ; ii. 753 ; iii. 518. Evelyn renders them very neatly : 

For whatsoever once its bounds doth pass, 
Straight perishes from what before it was. 

Good is fiat enough : 

For what once changes, by the change alone 
Subverts immediate its anterior life. 

Busby has. 

That which abdicates its nature dies. 

I can find no other attempt worth quoting. 

* That all things, as you may see, may not utterly fall to no- 
thing.] Ver. 674. Ne Obi res redeant ad nihuum funditua omnea, 


34 ^ LUCRETIUS. b. i. 677—705. 

stant elements, which always retain the same nature, by 
the departure and accession of which, and by their change 
of order, things alter their nature, and compound bodies con- 
vert themselves into a different consistence, it is easy to under- 
stand that these elements of things are not fiery. For it 
would be to no purpose that some of these elements should 
detach themselves and depart from one place, and be as- 
signed to another, and that some should have their order 
changed, if they all still retained the nature of fire, for 
whatever ^rc might produce would be in all forms onlt/ fire. 
But, as I am of opinion, the truth stands thus : There are 
certain elementary bodies, whose combinations, movements, 
order, position, shapes, produce fire, and which, when their 
order is changed, change their nature (zs a compound; nor, 
as I think, are they in themselves like to fire, or to any other 
thing, which has the power of emitting particles to our senses, 
and affecting our touch by its application. 

To say, moreover, that all things are fire, and that no real 
substance exists in the whole number of things but fire, {an 
assertion which this philosopher makes,) seems to be in the 
highest degree absurd. Since he himself, while arguing from 
his senses, combats against his senses,^ and shakes the credit 
of those perceptions, on which all things that we believe de- 
pend, and by the aid of which that which he names fire is 
known to him. For he believes th^t his senses distinguish 
fire accurately ; other things, which are not at all less clear, 
he does not believe that they can distinguish ; an inconsistency 
which seems to me both folly and madness. For to what 
shall we refer for information ? What can be a more certain 
criterion to us than the senses themselves ? How, if we cease 
to trust them, can we distinguish what is true, and what is false ? 

Besides, why should any one rather set aside all other 
things, and desire to admit the substance of fire as the only 
substance, than deny that fire exists, and still allow existence 
to all other substances'^^ For to advance either assertion, 
seems equal madness. 

^ Combats against his senses.] Ver. 694. Contra sensua — repuffnat, 
^* He contends against his own sei^ses^ which feel other things be- 
sides fire." Lambintu, To put trust m the senses was also a chief 
point in the arguments of Reid and his followers. CoAip. ver. 425. 

' Allow existence to all other stUatances,'] Ver. 704. Summam ta- 

B. I. 70^-722. LUCRETIUS. 35 

Wherefore, those who have thought that fire is the pri- 
mary matter of things, and that the whole universe may 
originate from fire ; and those who have determined that air 
is the first principle ^ for the production of things ; those who 
have imagined that water can itself form things of itself; 
and those who have supposed that the earth produces all 
things, and is changed into all substances of things, appear 
all to have wandered extremely far from the truth. 

To these add also those philosophers who couple the ele- 
ments of things,^ uniting Air with Fire, and Earth with Wa- 
ter ; and who think that from these four things, namely, from 
fire, earth, and air, and moisture, all bodies may proceed. 
Among the chief of whom is Empedocles^ of Agrigentum, 
whom, within the triangular coasts of its land, that island 
produced, around which the Ionian deep flowing with vast 
windings,* sprinkles on it salt^ from its blue waves, and the 
sea, rolling rapidly in a narrow channel, divides with its 
waves the shores of the lands of jEolia, (». e. Italy, )^ from the 

men ease relinquat " Still resolve to maintain that all other things 
exist." Creech. 

I Air is the first principle, S^c.'] Ver. 708, seg. Anaximenes of 
Miletus is said to have thought that air was the origin of things ; 
Thales taught that all sprung from water; and Pherecydes is re- 
ported to have said that the earth was the parent of all, but on what 
authoritv neither Faber nor I can discover. There were several 
philosophers, or pseudo-philosophers, of the name of Pherecydes, 
and who^ will prove which of them, or whether any of them, held 
this opinion ? 

' who couple the elements of things.] Ver. 713. Conduplicant 

primordia rerutn. " As were Xenophanes, whojoined earth and 
water ;^ Parmenides, who united fire and earth ; (Enopides of Chius, 
who mingled fire and air; Hippo of Rhegium, who put together fire 
and water." Faber, 

• Empedocles.] Ver. 717. "He flourished in the 84th Olympiad; 
wrote in elegant verse concerning the nature of things ; and taught 
that all things were compounded of fire, air, earth, and water, and 
resolved themselves again into those four principles. He also said 
that there were two original moving powers, con6ord and discord, 
the one producing union, and the other separation. Plutarch, de 
Placit. rhilosoph. i. 3." Creech. 

• Ionian deep flowing with vast windings.] Ver. 719. Qitamfltii- 
tana circutn moffnia amfractilnu (equor, " Amfractibus : anlittoris? an 
maris?" says Bentley. " Haud dubi^ maris," sa;^s Waketield. 

• Sprinkles on t< salt.] Ver. 720. Virus. " Significare salsedinem 
et amarorem maris dudum docuit Tumeb. xix. 15." Havercamp. 

• /Eolia, (». e. Italy. )'\ Ver. 722. On the margin of a copy belong- 

D 2 

36 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 723—749. 

boundaries of it (viz. of Sicily), Here is the vast Charybdis, 
and here the murmurs of ^tna threaten, indicating that the 
mountain is again gathering its wrathful flames, that its vio- 
lence may vomit forth afresh the fires bursting from its jaws, 
and once more hurl to the sky its blazing lightnings ; which 
great region, though it seems worthy-of-admiration to the 
human race on many accounts, and is extolled as deserving- 
of-being-visited, being rich in valuable productions, and dt 
fended with a mighty force of inhabitants, yet appears to 
have contained in it nothing more excellent than this man, 
nor any thing more sacred, and wonderful, and estimable.^ 
The verses, moreover, tohich proceeded from his divine intel- 
lect, proclaim and expound his noble discoveries so eloquently^ 
that he scarcely seems to have been sprung from a human 
origin. He, however, and those whom I mentioned above, 
(men distinguishably below him by many degrees, and far in- 
ferior to him,) although, finding out many things excellently 
and divinely, they gave oracles, as it were, from the inmost- 
temple of their heart, more sacredly, and with much more 
true reason, than the Pythia who speaks from the tripod and 
laurel of Phoebus, yet stumbled^ in attempting to expound the 
principles of things, and, great as they were, fell there with 
a heavy downfal. In the first place they erred, because they 
settle that motion may take place, though all vacuum be ex- 
cluded from matter, and because they admit that there exist 
soft and subtle bodies, (air, sun, fire, earth, animals, vegetable 
productions,) and yet mingle no vacuity in their composition. 
Secondly, they erred, because they assert that there is no limit 
at all to the division of material-particles, and that no bound 
is set to their fracture ; nor do they at all allow that any least 

ing to Havercamp was written in Latin : " That part (of Italy) 
which Jocastes tne son of ^olus fnhabited, along the strait of 
Sicily, was called ^olia." What authority there was for this state- 
ment, none of the critics discovered till Lachmann, who found that 
it was taken from Diod. Sic. v. 8 ; and that in a verse of Callima- 
chus, (apud Bentleium, n. 202,) Khegium in Italy is called the city 
of Jocastus the son of ^olus. Several copies, however, read Itali^e, and 
this reading Lachmann has adopted. 

* More sacred, and wonderful, and estimable.] Ver. 731. Sanctum 
magis et mirum carumque. " Carum, TifiiwTtpov," Lambinus* " Pluris 
faciendum." Creech, 

' Stumbled.] Ver. 741. Fecere ruinas. " Corruerunt, cecid6runt.** 
Faber, So also Lambinus. 

B. I. 750^767. LUCRETIUS. 37 

exists in bodies, although we see- that there is that least, 
namelyy the extreme point of every body, which seems to be 
least to our senses; *o that you may hence conclude that 
there exists in bodies a least possible quantity, which you 
yourself cannot perceive, but which, nevertheless, they have 
as an extreme. 

To this is also added, that they make the elements of things 
to be soft bodies, which soft bodies we see to be generated, and 
altogether of a perishable consistence. But if the elements of 
things were soft and perishable, the whole universe must fall 
back to nothing,^ and the abundance of things flourish by 
being re-produced from nothing. But how far each of these 
suppositions is distant from the truth, you have already had 

Besides, these four elements are in many ways hostile^ and 
destructive to one another ; for which reason, on coming to- 
gether, they will dther be naturally destroyed, or will start 
away from one another, as we see, when a tempest has arisen, 
the lightnings, and rains, and winds, not congregating together, 
but scattering themselves abroad. 

Moreover, if all things are produced from those four bodies,^ 
and all things are again dissolved into those bodies, how can 
those four be more justly called the primary elements of 
things, than, on the other hand, things may be called the pri- 
mary elements of them, and a backward computation, as it 

* Whole universe must fallback to nothing.] Ver. 757. If the 
elementarv particles of things were soft, the]^ would, plagis vexata 
per avom, harassed by long agitation and friction, he in time worn 
out and reduced to nothing. 

' Besides, these four elements are in many ways hostile.] Ver. 
760. Deinde inimica modis mtUtie sunt atque venena Ipsa sibi inter se. 
** Are as it vrere poisons, that is, deadly and destructive, as water to 
fire, Sjc, * ** So Catullus calls a certam Rufus viUs venenum** Lam- 
binus. A little below I have translated tempestate coaetd, *' a tempest 
having arisen;" properly, a tempest being collected, Lambinus and 
others read cdortd, 

* Moreover,' if all things are produced from those four bodies, 
4rf.] Ver. 764. If you say that all things which we see before us, 
diBtinct from those four bodies, are formed from those bodies, how 
will you prove this ? why may you not say, with equal plausibility, 
that those four bodies are formed from whatever things we see dis- 
tinct from them ? How can you tell which were originals ? 

38 LUCEETIUS. B. I. 768—798. 

were, be made ? For, according to this hypothesiSy they are 
produced alternately, and change their appearance, and their 
whole substance among themselves, perpetually. But if 
perchance you imagine that the substances of Jire and earth, 
and ethereal air and the liquid of water, meet together in 
such a way that by their combination they make no change . 
in their nature, nothing will be produced for you from them, 
neither animated creature, nor any thing of inanimate sub- 
stance, as a tree ; for each element in the conflux of the vary- 
ing heap will exhibit only its own nature, and air will be seen 
to remain mixed together with earth and with some portion 
o/* liquid ;^ but primary elements, for the production of things, 
must exercise a latent and unapparent influence, lest any 
element arise above the rest, which may resist their action, 
and prevent whatsoever is being formed from being able to 
attain its proper character. 

These philosophers, moreover, take a beginning from heaven 
and its flres, and make Are flrst to change itself into the air 
of the sky ; from air they say that water is produced, and that 
earth is generated from water ; and then they say again that 
all things return back from earth, flrst water, afterwards air, 
then heat ; and that these elements do not cease to interchange, 
and to pass from heaven to earth, and from earth to the stars 
of heaven ; which primary elements ought by no means to 
do. For it is necessary that there should remain something 
unchangeable, lest all things should be reduced utterly to 
nothing. Since whatsoever, being changed, goes beyond its 
own limits, this change becomes forthwith the death or ter- 
mination of that which it was before. Wherefore, since these 
four bodies which we have previously mentioned, pass into 
change,^ they must necessarily consist of other elements which 
cannot be changed in any way, lest all things should return, as 
you may suppose, utterly to nothing. But you may rather con- 

* Some portion of liquid..] Ver. 777. Quodam cum rare, Lambinus 
read ardor cum rore, heat with liquid, which is infinitely to he pre- 

^ Since these four bodies — pass into change.] Ver. 795. In com- 
mutatum veniunt. Commutatus, da. I believe it is a dva^ Xtyo/uvov, 
Lest all things should return, as you may suppose, S^c. Ne tibi res re- 
deant ad nihilum funditus omnes. See note on ver. 671. 

B. I. 799—817. LUCRETIUS. 39 

elude that certain bodies exihty endowed with such a nature, 
that if perchance they have generated fire, the same bodies 
may, a iew particles being taken away and a few being added, 
and their order and motion being changed, produce the air of 
heaven ; and that, in like manner, all other bodies may be 
changed into other bodies. 

But manifest fact,^ you perhaps observe, evidently shows 
that all things grow, and are nourished upwards, from the 
earth into the air of heaven ; and, unless the season is indul- 
gent with favourable weather, unless the groves are shaken 
with rains and with the moisture of showers,^ and, you will 
add, unless the sun, for his part, cherishes the productions of 
nature and affords heat, com, trees, and animals would not be 
able to grow. Doubtless ; and unless solid food and soft liquid 
were to sustain ourselves, our bodies, ybr wantoftheniy being 
quickly exhausted, all life also would waste away from our 
nerves and bones ; for we are without all question supported 
and nourished by certain substances, and other and other 
things are nourished by certain substances; because, as is 
evident, many common elements of many things^ are mixed in 
many bodies in many ways; therefore various ^ngs are 
sustained by various tilings. And it is often of great conse- 

' But manifest fact, S^cJ] Ver. 893. In this paragraph he answers 
an objection which may be made. He supposes the objector to 
allege that the four elements are necessary to natural production, 
and therefore may be the originals of things. To this he answers, 
that they are indeed necessary to production, but are not the more on 
that account the originals of things, than are the food and drink 
necessary to the nurture and sustenance of man. 

' Groves are shaken — with the moisture of showers.] Ver. 806. 
Imbribus et tabe nimborum arbtuta vaeillant. Tabes, a word sometimes 
applied to the melting of snow, as in Lucan, x. 225, cited by Haver- 
camp. See also Livy, xxi. 36, who, in the same chapter, has both 
tabes nifria and tabida nix, — Are shaken.] Vaeillant : totter. See vi. 
57 5 f Vaeillant omnia tecta, 

» Many conunon elements of many things, S^eJ] Ver. 814. 

Mtdtimodis communia muUie 

Multarum rerum in rebus primordia multa 

** He manifestly makes it his business to repeat the same word as 
often as possible." Preigerue, Wakefield collects a few instances of 
a similar repetition of ^rac, as in Demosth. cont. Aristag. i. fin. — 
&7ravTa^ airaai iravra t* aya!^a ivx^^o.i. 

40 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 818-837. 

quence with what other elements^ and in what position, these 
same elements are combined, and what motions thej recipro- 
callj cause and suffer. For the same elements constitute the 
heaven, the sea, the earth, the rivers, the sun ; the same ele- 
ments constitute corn, woods, animals. But they are actuated 
and made effective by being mixed with other different ele- 
ments and in different ways. 

Besides, even in my own verses ^ you see every where many 
elements common to many words ; although you must never- 
theless allow that the verses and words differ one from an- 
other both in sense and sound ; so much can elements effect, 
even if their order only be changed ! But those elements which 
are the principles of things, being more numerotis, can attract 
to themselves Taore^ and form more combinations, from which all 
the various things in the universe may severally be produced. 

And now let us also examine the 'O/joiojjiipeia of Anax- 
agoras,^ as the Greeks call it ; nor does the poverty of our na- 
tive tongue, indeed, allow us to name it in our own language. 
But it is easy, however, to explain in words the thing itself, 
which, as the origin of things, he calls 'OfwiofUpeia. He 
thinks, that is to say, that bones are produced from small 
and minute bones; so likewise that flesh is generated from 
small and minute particles o/*flesh,^ and that blood is formed 

* Besides, even in my own verses, Sfc.'] Ver. 823. If the various 
selections and combinations of four and twenty letters, can form so 
many words as are seen in my verses, how infinitely greater a va- 
riety of things may seminal atoms form, being so incalculably more 
numerous ! 

Mark, as my easy verse spontaneous flows, 

How common letters various words compose, 

Thou^ verse from verse, and word from word, be found 

To differ widely, both in sense and sound ; 

And hence convicted, let thy reason own 

What wondrous change position forms alone. 

Thus common seeds, more numerous far, unite 

In all the different forms that greet the light. Drummond, 

' 'Ofioiofisptia of Anaxa^oras.] Ver. 830. See Diog. Laert. book 
ii., and Plutarch de Placit. Philos. book i. From Sfioiog, like, and 
fiepoc, part The text sufiiciently explains it. 

' Flesh is generated from small and minute particles of flesh.] 
Ver. 836. De pauxillie atque minutis Viecer^ma viscua gigni, Via^ 
ct*8 is rightly interpreted flesh : " Nam viscera sunt quicquid inter 

B. I. 838-872. LUCRETIUS. 41 

from many drops of blood meeting together ; he is of opinion^ 
moreover, that gold may consist of crumbs of gold, and that 
earth may be a concrete of little earths ; that fire may be from 
fires, and moisture from moistures. Other things he ima- 
gines and supposes to be produced in a similar way. Yet he 
does not allow that there is any where a void in things, cw 
that there is any limit to the division of bodies. Wherefore 
in both these respects he seems to me to err equally with those 
of whom we have before spoken. 

Add to thisy that he supposes principles which are too frail, 
if, indeed, they are principles which are made to be endowed 
with like nature as the things themselves that are produced 
from them, and equally suffer and decay ; nor does any thing 
withhold them from destruction. For what portion of them 
will endure under violent oppression, so as to escape dissolu- 
tion under the very teeth of death ? Will it be fire, or moisture, 
or air ? which of these ? Or will it be blood, or bone ? Not one 
of all those substances, as I conceive ; since every thing uni- 
versally will be equally perishable as those things which we 
see manifestly perish from before our eyes, when overcome 
by any violence. But I call to witness the positions which I 
have before proved, that neither can things be reduced to no- 
thing, nor again grqw up from nothing. 

Moreover, since food augments and nourishes the body, we 
may understand that veins, and blood, and bones, and nerves, 
consist of heterogeneous parts. Or, if these philosophers shall 
say that all food is of a mixed substance, and contains in itself 
small elements of nerves and bones, and also veins and par- 
ticles of blood, it will follow, that Y ith all solid food, and 
liquid itself, must be thought to consist of such heterogeneous 
matters, and to be mixed up of bones, and nerves, and veins, 
and blood. Besides, if whatever bodies grow from the earth 
are previous^ latent in the earth, earth must consist of 
all those heterogeneous matters which spring from earth. 
Transfer this reasoning to other objects, and you may likewise 
use the same phraseology : in wood, for instance, if there is 

ossa et cutem est." Servius ad Virg. Mn. vii. 253. The text 
might be rendered, "flesh is generated from small and minute 
Jleshet." Evelyn took it in the sense of entrails: " That erUraHa do 
of little entriaU breed." 

42 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 873-889. 

concealed flame, and smoke, and ashes, wood must necessarilj 
consist of the heterogeneous particles of those substances. 

Here some slight opportunity is left to this sect of philoso- 
phers for eluding the arguments of their adversaries; an oppor- 
tunity of which Anaxagoras avails himself, by alleging ihat 
although he thinks all things lie-secretlj mixed with all 
things, yet that that alone appears on the surface of each^ of 
which there are most particles mixed in the composition of 
each^ and placed more a^ it were in readiness and in iront ; 
which, however, is far removed from just reasoning. For, if 
this hypothesis were correct, it might-naturally-be-expected 
also that com, when it is broken by the overwhelming force 
of the mi//-stone,^ would exhibit some token of blood,^ or some- 
thing of those substances which are nourished in our bodies ; 
' (that when we rub stone against stone, blood should flow ;) 
in like manner, also, it would be probable that herbs would 
send forth drops of a sweet liquid, and of similar taste, such 
as are the drops of milk; that isstie from the udder of the 
sheep. And, without doubt, we might also suppose that fre- 
quently, when clods of earth are broken, rudiments of the 
several kinds of herbs, and corn, and leaves of trees would ap- 
pear scattered about, and be proved to lie hid in the earth in 

* Overwhelming force of the mtV^stone.] Ver. 880. Minad robore 
saxi. ** Minaciy poetically for terrible and formidable, and therefore 
great and heavy," Wakefield, 

* Exhibit some token of blood.] Ver. 881. Mittere signum sanguis 
nis. If blood, according to Anaxagoras, comes from drops of blood, 
and blood is produced in our bodies by the medium of com* surely 
we should, says Lucretius, on crushing corn, sometimes find drops 
of blood in it. What follows, ** that when we rub stone against stone 
blood should flow," Quumlapidem in lapidem terimus manare crttoremy 
is a verse which Faber, Preiger, Havercamp, and Bentley concur 
in condemning as spurious, and which, though nreservedf and de- 
fended by Wakefield, even Forbiger himself, following Eichstadt,- 
has ventured to include in brackets. It evidently encumbers the 
text uselessly. "It seems to have been written m the margin," 
says Forbiger, " by some one who thought that the words frugea 
robore saxi franguntur required a more accurate explanation, and 
who had in his mind the passage of Plautus, Asin. i. 1, \6,nuin me 
illtic dnciSj ubi lapis lapidem feritf " There seems to be much plausi- 
bility in this conjecture. Whoever made the verse, the upper and 
nether mill-stone, which crush the corn between them, are plainly 
intended. Lachmann, to my surprise, preserves the verse. 

B. I. 890—917. LUCRETIUS. 43 

minute particles ; moreover that in wood, when it is broken, 
ashes, and smoke, and small particles of fire would be found 
to lie concealed. Of which occurrences, since manifest expe- 
rience shows that none take place, we may understand that 
substances are not so mixed with substances: but, if Anax- 
agoras were right, the common seeds of many things must lie 
secretly mixed, in many ways, among other things. 

But, you vjill aa.jy it often happens that on the high moun- 
tains, the extreme tops of tall trees, when near to one another, 
are rubbed together, the strong south winds compelling them 
to act thus, until they shine with a flash of flame bursting 
forth. It is so. And yet the fire is not inherent in the wood, 
but there are in it many seeds of heat, which, when they have 
become confluent by friction, produce a conflagration in the 
woods. But if positive flame ^ were hidden in the woods, the 
fire could not be concealed for any length of time, but would 
openly consume the forests, and bum up the groves. 

Do you now see, therefore, (what we remarked a little be- 
fore,) that it is frequently of grbat consequence with what 
other elements and in what position the same elements are 
combined, and what motions they reciprocally impart and re- 
ceive ? And that the same elements a little altered^ in respect 
to each other, produce fire from wood, ignes e lignis, just as 
also the words themselves consist of elements or letters a lit- 
tle changed, when we denote wood and fire, ligna atque ignes, 
by distinct appellations. 

Finally, if you think that whatever things you see in the 
visible world, could not be conceived to have been formed 
without supposing the primary particles of matter to be en- 
dowed with a nature similar to the things formed from them, 
your original elements of things, by this hypothesis, become 

* But if positive flame.] Ver. 903. Quod si facta flamma, " Facta 
Hamma is flame already formed, and collected into a vivid body, its 
seeds having combined; and, if this flame lay hid in the woods, it 
might suddenly burst forth, and destroy all surrounding objects with 
fire." Wakefield, So also Preiger, See Thucydides.ii. 77. 

' And that the same elements a little altered, S^c.^ Ver. 910. At- 
gue eadenty pautb inter ee mutata create Ignes ^ Kgnis. As we denote 
dissimilar things by different words, lignum et ignem, (wood and fire.) 
by changing a little the letters of the alphabet, some being added, 
and some taken away." Lambinus, 

44 LUCRETIUS. B. 1. 918—937. 

mere absurdities, and fall to the ground} For the consequence 
of such a supposition will be, that t/ou must have primary 
particles which, as the origin of laughter, are themselves con- 
vulsed with tremulous fits of laughter, and others which, as 
the originals of weeping, bedew their own faces and cheeks with 
salt tears. 

And now give me your attention as to what remains ; 
learn and hear more fully and plainly. Nor does it' escape 
my knowledge how obscure these matters are ; but the 
great hope of praise has struck my heart with her powerful 
thyrsus, and has at the same time infused into my breast a 
pleasing love of the Muses, with which inspired I now wander, 
in vigorous thought, over the trackless regions of the Pierides, 
trodden before by the foot of no poet It delights me to ap- 
proach the untasted fountains, and to drink ; and it transports 
me to pluck the fresh fiowers, and to obtain a distinguished 
chaplet for my head from those groves whence the Muses have 
hitherto veiled the temples of no one. In the first place, be- 
cause I give instruction concerning mighty subjects, and pro- 
ceed to free the mind from the closely-confining shackles of 
Religion ; in the next place, because I compose such lucid 
verses concerning so obscure a subject, touching every thing 
with the grace of poetry. Since such ornament also seems 
not unjustifiable or without reason. But as physicians, when 
they attempt to give bitter wormwood to children, first tinge 
the rim round the cup with the sweet and yellow liquid of 

* Your original elements fall to the ground,"] Ver. 917. 

Hac ratione tibi pereunt primordia rerum. 
Fiet uti risu tremulo concussa cachinnent, 
£t lacrymis salsis humectent ora genasque. 

" If any one shall suppose that none of those things which are seen 
by our eyes, can be produced otherwise than from similar elements, 
his elements, by this very supposition, will be done away with, for 
they will be no longer elements, but concrete, and even animated 
and rational, substances. For, since men are produced from ele- 
ments, and since men sometimes laugh and sometimes weep, it will 
follow that the elements of which men themselves consist, have the 
faculties of laughing and weeping; which will be most absurd." 
Lamhinua, Some have thought that there must be verses lost between 
the first and second of these three lines ; and there certainly is an 
abruptness in the passage which greatly justifies such a supposition. 

B. 1. 938—9614 LUCRETIUS. 45 

honey, that the age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious,^ may 
find its lips deluded, and may in the mean time drink up the 
bitter juice of the wormwood, and, though deceived, may not 
be injured, but rather, recruited by such a process, may ac- 
quire strength: so now I, since this argument seems ge- 
nerally too severe and forbidding to those by whom it has not 
been handled, and since the multitude shrink back from it, 
was desirous to set forth my chain-of-reasoning to thee, O Mem- 
miuSy ip sweetly-speaking Pierian verse, and, as it were, to 
tinge it with the honey of the Muses ; if perchance, by such 
a method, I might detain thy attention upon my strains, until 
thou lookest through the whole Nature of Things, and 
understandest with what shape and beauty it is adorned. 

But since I have taught that atoms of matter, entirely solid, 
pass-to-and-fro perpetually, unwasted through all time ; come 
now, and let us unravel whether there be any limit ^ to their 
aggregate, or not ; also, let us look into that which has been 
found to be vacancy, or the room and space in which things 
severally are done, and ham whether the whole is entirely 
limited, or extends unbounded and unfathomably profound. 

All that exists, therefore, / affirm? is bounded in no di- 
rection ; for, if it were boundedy it must have some extremity ; 
but it appears that there cannot be an extremity of any thing, 
unless there be something beyond, which may limit it; so 
that there may appear to be some line farther than which ^ this 
faculty of our sense (t. e, our vision) cannot extend. Now, 

* Age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious.] Ver. 938. Puerorum 
4bUu improvida. — Find its lips deluded.] Ltidijicetur labrorum tenusy 
may be deceived as far as the Ups (are concerned). — Though de- 
ceived, may not be injured.] Deceptaque non capiattir, ** Decepti non 
damnum aliquod patiantur." Creech, 

' Whether there be any limit, ^c] Ver. 950, seg. He now pro- 
ceeds to consider whether matter and space be infinite or not. 

* All that exists, therefore, / afimiy 4fc.] Ver. 957. He asserts 
that all that exists, both matter and the space which contains it, is 
boimded in no direction, {nulla regione viaruniy) inasmuch as it is 
possible to find no extremity of it. 

* So that there may appear to be some line farther than which, 

4fc.] Ver. 960. 

ut videatur, 

Qub non longiui hmc senaiis natura sequatur, 

I have followed Lambinus, who interprets thus : ut videattiTy that 

46 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 962—973. 

since it mast be confessed that there is nothing beyond the 
WHOLE, the whole has no extremity ; nor does it matter at 
what part of it you stand, ^ with a view to being distant from its 
boundary; inasmuch as, whatever place any one occupies, he 
leaves the whole just as much boundless in every direction. 

Besides, if all space which is, be supposed to be bounded, 
and if any one should go forward as far as possible, even to 
what he thinks its extreme limits, and should throw, or attempt 
to throwy a flying dart,^ whether would you have that dart, 
hurled with vigorous strength, go on in the direction in which 
it may have been propelled, and fly far forwards, or do you 
rather prefer to think that something would have power to 
hinder and stop it ? For one of the two alternatives you must 

there may be seen, namely, some limiting extremity, gtto longiita, i. e. 
ultra quod, beyond which, hac natura aensikSf this faculty of vision or 
sight, non sequatur, cannot extend and exert its power. Evelyn 
translates, in like manner, 

So that one may discern the utmost space, 
Than which no farther it our sense can trace. 

I shall not spend time upon Creech's ex quo videri possit, except so 
far as to observe, that he seems to have led astray the author of the 
old prose version, who gives this wonderful note: ** Whatever has 
an extreme may be seen by what is without or beyond it. Now the 
Universe, or the All, is not seen by any thing that is beyond it ; 
therefore the Universe has no extreme." 

* Nor does it matter at what part of it you stand.] Ver. 964. 
Nee refert quibus cusistas regionibua ejus, " In quibus partibus con- 
sistas." Creech, Locke, showing that our idea of space is boundless, 
says, (Essay, book i. ch. 17, § 4,) " Wherever the mind places itself 
by any thought, either amongst or remote from all bodies, it can, in 
this uniform idea of space, no where find any bounds or ends, and 
so must necessarily conclude it, by the very nature and idea of each 
part of it, to be actually infinite. 

* Throw a flying dart.] Ver. 969. Jaciatque volatile telum. If you 
suppose that .there is a boundary to the universe, fix on the place 
wnere you think it lies, and try to throw a dart beyond it ; the dart 
will either pass beyond it^ or will be stopped by some opposing 
body: if it passes beyond it, you have not fixed the boundary of 
the universe ; if it is stopped by any body, there is something be- 
yond your supposed boundary. Ultimus, ver. 969, I have rendered 
as far as possible. — As to Jinique locet se, ver. 977, I have taken 
Creech's interpretation, who explains the whole passage thus : Quo 
minus earn partem, in quam destinatum fuit, attingat, ibique tanqtuxm in 
termino se sistat " Whither it were sent, it could not tend." Evelyn, 

B. I. 974—1002. LUCRETIUS. 47 

of necessity admit and adopt ; of which alternatives either 
cuts off escape from you, and compels you to grant that the 
WHOLE extends without limit. Since whether there is any 
thing to stop the javelin^ and to cause that it may not go on in 
the direction in which it was aimed, and fix itself at the destined 
termination of its flighty or whether it is borne onwards be- 
yond the supposed limit, it evidently did not begin-its-llight 
from a boundary of the whole. In this manner I will go on 
with yoUy and wheresoever you shall fix the extreme margin 
of space, I will ask you what then would be the case with the 
javelin. The case will be, that a limit can no where exist ; 
and that room for the flight of the javelin will ^ ^7/ extend 
its flight. 

Further, if all the space of the entire whole were shut-in 
and bounded on all sides by certain limits, the quantity of 
matter in the universe would before this time have flowed 
together to the bottom, by reason of its solid weight; nor 
could any thing be carried on beneath the canopy of heaven ; 
nor, indeed, would there be a heaven at all, or light of the 
sun ; for all matter, from sinking down for an infinite space 
of time, would be accumulated at the bottom of the whole. 
But now, it is evident, no rest is given to the atoms of the 
primary-elements ; because no part of the universe is com^ 
pletely and fundamentally lowest, whither the atoms might, as 
it were, flow together, and where they might flx their seat ; 
and therefore all things are always carried on in all parts in 
perpetual motion, and the lowest atoms of matter, or those 
which we may conceive to be the lowest, stirred up from the 
infinite of space, are supplied ybr the generation of things. 

Moreover, in things before our eyes, object seems to bound 
object ; the air sets-a-boundary-to the hills, and the hills to 
the air ; the land limits the sea, and the sea, on the other 
hand, limits the entire land ; but, as to the whole, there is 
nothing beyond it that can bound it. The nature, therefore, 
of space, and the extent of the profound whole, is such a vast, 
which neither famous rivers,^ in their course, can run through, 

' Famous rivers.] Ver. 1002. Clara flumina.—" Celebres fluvii," 
says Creech; and^nobiles fluvii," says the Delphin editor, who 
adds, renowned "for their rapidity, as the Rhone^ Danube, 4fc." 
Be it so. Faber advocated fulmina, thinking that it suited better 
with clara, and Lachmann has adopted it. Flumina, however, is 
more in accordance with ktbentia in tne next verse. 

48 LUCRETIUS. b. i. 1003—1022. 

though flowing for an eternal length of time, nor, by passing 
on, can at all cause that less distance should remain for them 
to go. To such a degree, o^ every side, vast abundance of 
room lies open for all things, all limit being set aside eyery 
where and in every direction. 

Besides, Nature herself prevents the whole of things 
from being able to provide bounds for itself, inasmuch as she 
compels body to be bounded by that which is vacuum, and 
that which is vacuum to be bounded by body ; that so, by this 
alternate bounding of one by the otlier^ she may render all 
infinite.^ Else, moreover, if one or other of these did not 
bound the other by its simple nature, so that one of them, the 
vacuum for instance, should extend unlimited, neither the sea, 
nor the land, nor the bright temples of heaven,^ nor the race 
of mortals, nor the sacred persons of the gods, could subsist 
for the small space of an hour. For the body of matter, 
driven abroad from its union, would be borne dispersed 
through the mighty void, or rather, in such a case, never 
having been united, would never have produced any thing, 
since, when originally scattered, it could not have been 
brought together. 

For certainly neither the primary elements of things dis- 
posed themselves severally in their own order, by their oum 
counsel or sagacious understanding ; nor, assuredly, did they 
agree among themselves what motions each should produce ; 

* Render all infinite.] Ver. 1010. InfinUa omnia reddat, " Uni- 
versum reddat interminatum." Creech, Perhaps I should rather 
have translated it, may render all thinge infinite^ that is, produce an 
infinite variety of things by the alternate mixture of matter and 

So that with one and other 
She renders all things infinite together. Evelyn. 

' Bright temples of heaven.] Ver. 1013. Cceli luddm templa, I 
have rendered it literally templet, but I should perhaps say that it 
means spaces, quarters, divisions, regions, the derivation generally 
adopted being from rsfivut, Tifiw, to cut ; temulumy temlum, templum, 
"as," says Mr. Valpy, ** Eximo, Exemtdum, Exemlum, Exemplum.** Ci- 
cero quotes cceli ccerula templa from Ennius. The augurs, when about 
to take omens, divided the heaven into templa, as tiie astrologers of 
later days divided it into houses. At the beginning of the second 
Book occurs templa serena, in reference to learning and wisdom, 
which I have rendered serene heights. And ver. 1063, I have trans- 
lated coeU templa, ** upper parts of heaven. " 

B. I. 102a-.1049. LUCRETIUS. 49 

but because, being many, and changed in many ways, they 
are for an infinite space of time agitated, being acted upon by 
forces, throughout the whole, thei/ thus, by experiencing 
movements and combinations of every kind, at length settle 
into such positions, by which means, (t. e, positions f)^ this sum 
of things, being produced, exists. And this sum of things, 
when it was once thrown into suitable motibns, being also 
maintained in that state through many long years, causes that 
the rivers recruit the greedy sea with large floods of water, 
and that the earth, cherished by the heat of the sun, renews 
its productions ; also that the race of living creatures flour- 
ishes undecayed,^ and that the gliding fires of heaven live. 
Which effects atoms could by no means produce, unless an 
abundant supply of matter could arise from the infinite of 
space, whence every thing that is produced is accustomed to 
repair in time the parts lost. For as the nature of animals, 
when deprived of food, wastes and decays, losing its substance, 
so must all things fall away, as soon as matter, turned by any 
means from its course,* has failed to supply itself. 

Nor can impacts,* as some may imagine, produced externally 
on all sides, keep together the entire whole, or whatever of 
matter has been combined into a whole. For though some 
external impacts may strike frequently, and thus may sustain 
here and there a part, until others succeed, and the requisite 
numher of impacts for securing any particular portion may be 
completed ; yet at times the bodies producing the impacts are 
compelled to rebound, and at the same moment to give the pri- 
mary-atoms of things space and time for flight, so that they 
may be carried away free from the aggregate. It is neces- 
sary therefore for such compression by impact, that many atoms 
should again and again rise up into action from the surrounding 
parts ; and besides, in order that the impacts may be given 

* By which means, (». e. positions),'] Ver. 1027. Qualihus h<Bc 
rebus consistU summa creata. " In tales disposituras, quae res efficiant 
ilku^ quibus haec summa creata consistat.*' Forbiger. Wakefield 
would join summa rebus, for summa rerum, if rebus were genuine ; 
but he admitted Faber's rerum into his text. 

* Flourishes undecayed.] Ver. 1032. Summd—floreat. " So flour- 
ishes that their sum remains undiminished." Wakejleld. 

* Turned from its course.] Ver. 1040. Avorsa viai. Tng bdov 
dtrf(TTpafifuva, Wakefield, 

* Impacts.] Ver. 1041. PlagcSy "blows, strokes.'* 


50 LUCRETIUS. B. I. 1050—1076. 

in sufficient numbers, an infinite quantity of matter is requisite 
on every side. 

And in these matters, O Memmius, be very far from be- 
lieving that which some say, namely, that all things tend to 
the centre ^ of the whole, and that therefore the nature and 
substance of the world stand without any percussions or pres- 
sures from without, and that the highest and lowest parts, as 
we call them, cannot be resolved, or throum back in any direc- 
tion, because all things strive towards the middle ; (if, indeed, 
you DO believe that any thing, as the earth, according to them, 
can rest upon itself in the middle; and that those heavy bodies 
which are on the lower part of the earth, all tend upwards, or 
to the centre, and rest upon the earth, although placed in a re- 
verse position to ourselves, like the shadows of things which we 
every day see in the water, with their lower parts uppermost) 
And in like manner they contend that the animals beneath us 
range about with their feet upwards, nor can fall back from 
the earth into the lower parts of heaven, more than our bodies 
can spontaneously fly off into the upper parts of heaven; 
that when they see the sun, we behold the stars of night, and 
that they share the times of heaven, the hours of Ught and 
darkness, alternately with us, and pass nights corresponding 
in time to our days. 

But a vain delusion must have devised all these things for 
foolish men, mistaken in that they have embraced a wrong 
opinion at the commencement. For there can be no middle 
where vacuum and space are infinite ; nor, even if there were a 
middle, would any thing at all rest there more on that account, 
than it would stay there for any other far different reason. 
Since all fnere place, and space which we call empty, must, 
whether through the centre or through what is not the centre, 
yield equally a passage to equal weights, in whatsoever direc- 

* And in these matters all things tend to the centre.l Ver. 

1051. "It was the opinion of the Peripatetics, and of the old 
Academics, (of whom Plato, however, is perhaps to be except- 
ed,) of the Stoics, and of all who admit only one finite world, that 
all heavy bodies are borne towards the centre, and all light bo- 
dies from the centre to the extremity. But Epicurus, and others 
who think that there are innumerable worlds, and that the universe 
is infinite, allow neither extremity nor middle." Lamhinw, Comp. 
ver. 1069. 

B. I. 1076—1096. LUCEETIUS. 5-1 

tion their motions tend. Nor is there any place, at which 
when bodies have arrived, they can make a stand in vacuo^ 
having lost the force of weight ; — nor again, must that which 
is vacuum, give support beneath any thing, but must proceed 
to jdeld that passage through it which its nature requires. 
Things, therefore, cannot be held in combination under such 
a hypothesis, namdyy that they are influenced by a tendency 
to the centre. 

This sect of philosophers are in error, moreover, inasmuch 
as they do not suppose that all particles tend to the centre, 
but only those of earth and water, as the liquid of the sea 
and the great floods from the mountains, and those which are 
contained, as it were, in earthy substances ; but set forth, on 
the other hand, that the, subtle air of heaven, and warm fire, 
are at the same time carried away from the centre, and that, 
from this cause, the whole sky twinkles around us with stars, 
and the flame of the sun is fed throughout the blue expanse 
of heaven, since all the heat, fleeing from the centre, collects 
in those parts : (for the generations of men also, they say, are 
fed from the earth, by food rising from the centre ; nor could 
the extremities of the branches of the trees produce leaves, 
if the earth did not gradually supply sustenance to each from 
the ground ;) while they add, that the heaven above covers 
all things round about, lest the walls of the world, being 
dissolved into their constituent atoms, should suddenly fly,^ 

» Walls of the world should suddenly fly.] Ver. 1095. So 

Lucan, Phars. i. 72. 

Sic cum compage solulii 
Ssecula tot mundi suprema coegerit hora, 
Antiquum repetens iterum Chaos, omnia mistis 
Sidera siderious concurrent : ignea pontum 
Astra petent: tellus extendere littora nolet, 
Excutietque fretum : fratri contraria Phoebe 
Ibit, et obli^uum bigas agitare per orbem 
Indienata diem poscet sibi ; totaque discors 
Macnina divulsi turbabit foedera mundi. 

So when this knot of nature is dissolved, 
And the world's ages in one hour involved 
In their old Chaos, seas with skies shall join, . 
And stars with stars confounded lose their shine : 
The earth no longer shall extend its shore 
To keep the ocean out ; the moon no more 

E 2 



B. 1. 1097—1010. 

like winged flames, through the vast void, and lest other 
things should follow in like manner ; lest, moreover, the 
regions of heaven, containing the thunder, should fall from 
above, and the earth should hastily withdraw itself from un- 
der our feet, and all human beings, dissolving their bodies 
into their elements, should pass away, in the midst of the 
mingled ruin of things cf earth taid heaven, through the deep 
INANE, so that, in a moment of time, no relic should exist of 
them, except desert space and blind atoms. ^ For wheresoever 
you shall suppose atoms to be first absent from their proper 
place, that part will be the gate of death to all things ; by 
that part, the whole crowd of material-elements will rush 
forth abroad. 

These things if you shall understand, led on by my humble 
effort, (for one proposition will appear plain from another,) 
dark night will not prevent your progress, or hinder you from 
seeing clearly into the last depths of nature ; so effectiuilfy 
will truths kindle light for truths. 

Follow the sun ; but, scorning her old way, 

Cross him, and claim the guidance of the day. 

The falling world's now jarring frame no peace, 

No league shall hold. May, 

* Blind atoms.] Ver. 1103. Primordia cceca. The imperceptible 
primary elements of all things. 



Having exhorted Memmiiis to the study of philosophy, ver. 1 — 60, Lucre- 
tius proceeds to treat of the properties of atom s, of which the first is 
xnotion^ which they owe either to their own weight or the impulse of other 
atoms, ver. 60 — 87. Atoms are borne downwards, as being heavy, and 
when solid atoms come in collision, they must necessarily rebound ; some 
unite with others ; those that unite closely, form bodies hard and dense ; 
those that combine more loosely, thin and subtle substances, ver. 88 — 107. 
Some do not coalesce, but wander continually through space, impelling 
and agitating other atoms, ver. 108 — 140. The swiftness of atoms, ver. 
141 — 166. He attacks those who deny the Epicurean doctrine of atoms, 
and refuse to admit that this unchangeable order of things is maintained 
without a divine providence, ver. 167 — 183. Atoms in their course down- 
wards decline a little from the right line, 18^221! Were they not to 
decline, nothing would be producedj and there could be no free agency 
in fttiimftlg when produced, ver. 222 — ^271. Atoms are still borne on in 
the same way in which they nave moved from all eternity ; nor is this 
assertion to be disputed because all things seem at rest, ver. 272 — 332. 
The second remarkable property of atoms is figure ; how greatly they 
differ in this is shown by the vast variety of things produced from them, 
ver. 332 — 425. Some atoms are rough and jagged, others smooth and 
round ; some produce bitter and some sweet, some hard and some soft 
bodies, ver. 426—476. But the figures of atoms are not infinite, though 
the number of each figure is infinite, ver. 477 — 580. Shovrs that com- 
pound bodies contain atoms of different figures, and alludes to the natuhil 
history of the earth, and the feibulouB history of Cybele, ver. 580 — 728. 
Atoms have not those qualities which we call sensible qualities, as colour, 
taste, heat, cold, &a, though they generate bodies having those qualities, 
ver. 729 — 1021. The infinite number of atoms, moving through the in- 
finite of space, compose infinite worlds, which are sometimes increased by 
atoms being added, and sometimes diminished and dissolved by the separ- 
ation and departure of atoms, ver. 1022 — 1149 ; just as, before our eyes, 
plants and animals grow up, decline, and perish, ver. 1150 — 1172. 

54 LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 1—20. 

It is sweet, when tlie winds ^ disturb the waters on the vast 
deep, to behold from the land the great distress of another ; 
not because it is a joyous pleasure that anyone should be-made- 
to-suffer, but because it is agreeable to see from what evils 
thou thyself art free. It is also sweet to contemplate the 
contending-forces of war, arrayed over the plains, without 
any share of thy own in the danger. But nothing is sweeter 
than to occupy the well-defended serene heights raised by 
the learning of the wise,^ from whence thou mayest look down 
upon others, and see them straying in all directions, wander- 
ing about to find the best path of life ; contending in intellec- 
tual power, vying with each other in nobleness of birth, and 
striving by excessive labour, night and day, to rise to the 
highest power, and to obtain the government of affairs. 

O wretched minds of men ! O blind souls ! In what 
darkness of life, and in how great dangers, is this existence^ 
of whatever duration it is, passed ! May we not see that the 
nature of evert/ mdn demands * nothing more for itself, but 
that he, from whose body pain is removed and absent, may 
exercise his mind with a pleasurable feeling, exempt from care 
and fear ? 

We are sensible, therefore, that very few things are neces- 

* It is sweet when the winds, 4r^.] Ver. 1. " For the idea Con- 
tained in the first two verses," says Dr. Good^ " Lucretius seems in 
some measure to have been indebted to Isidorus. ' Nothing is 
more pleasant/ says this writer, 'than to sit at ease in the Ear- 
hour, and behold the shipwreck of others,' Iv Xifikvi Ko^rja^ai, Kal ret 
T&v aWiav (TKoiruv vavayia. Pelus. lib. ii. ep. 240." But as Lucre- 
tius died about five hundred years before Isidortu PeUtnota^ the obliga- 
tion can hardly be proved to lie on Lucretius' side. Lambinus, with 
more probability, suggests that Lucretius may have had in his mind 
these verses of Menander : 

*Qc rfiii Ti^v SrdXaTTav airoOtv yrjs opav, 
''Q fiTJrep, €<Trt, fii) trXkovra fiijdafi&^. 

'* How sweet it is, O mother, to contemplate the sea at a distance 
from the land^ being altogether free from sailing on it ! " 

^ Serene heights raised by the learning of the wise.] Ver. 8. EdUta 
doctrind sapientum templa serena. Edita, says Wakefield, is "raised 
up, made, produced, built on high, by the learning of philosophers." 

* Nature of every man demands, ^c,"] Ver. 17. ^^ Naturam cujus- 
libet hominis, nisi ut iUe fruatur, tnat you may not hesitate in set- 
tling the construction." Bentley apud Wakefield. 

B. II. 21-45. LUCEETIUS. 55 

sary to the nature of the body; those thingsy namely, which 
are of such a kind that they may keep off p.aiD, and that they 
may afibrd, at the same time, many pleasures ; nor does na- 
ture herself ever require ^ higher gratification. If there are 
not, in the houses of men, golden images of youths, holding 
in their right hands blazing lamps, in order that light may 
be supplied for the nocturnal feast ; and j^ their dwelling nei- 
ther gleams with silver nor glitters with gold, nor harps cause 
the arched and gilded roofs to resound ; ^ nevertheless, when 
they have stretched themselves upon the soft grass, near a 
stream of water, under the boughs of a high tree, they socially, 
though with no great wealth, gratify their senses with plea- 
sure, especially when the weather smiles upon them, and the 
seasons of the year sprinkle the green grass with flowers. 
Nor do hot fevers sooner depart from the body, if you are 
tossed on woven figures and blushing purple, than if you are 
obliged to lie under a plebeian covering. 

For which reason, since neither riches, oor nobility, nor 
the glory of a kingdom, are of any profit as to our body, we 
must further suppose that they are of no profit to the mind : ^ 
unless, perchance, when you see your legions* moving with 
energy over the surface of the plain, stirring up the images 
of war, or when you see your fleet sailing-with-animation, and 
spreading far abroad upon the water, religious-fears, alarmed 
at these things, flee affrighted from your mind, and the dread of 
death then leaves your time undisturbed ^ and free from care. 

* Nor does nature herself ever require.] Ver. 23. Gratiua interdum 
nequB natura ipsa requirit. '* It is to be observed, what we perhaps 
observe first, that interdum neque is put for nunqttam.*' Faber, 

* Nor harps cause the — roofs to resound.] Ver. 28. Nee cithara 
reboant — templa, " Citharse seems to be the nominative plural, re- 
boant being put for reboare faciun t. ' ' Forbiger, The passages in wnich 
these lines of Lucretius have been imitated by Virgil, (Georg. ii. 
461,) and other poets, it would require too much space to quote. 

* We must further suppose that they are of no profit to the mind. ] 
Ver. 39. Quod superest, animo quoque nil prodesse putandum, ^* Cre- 
dendum etiam non animo prodesse.'* Creech. Quod tuperest for 
prceterea, eiiam, 

* Unless, perchance, when you see your legions, Sfc."] Ver. 4fO. 
Si non forte tua» legionea, &c. " Ironically. Unless, perchance, cares, 
and religious terrors, and dread of death, are driven from the mind 
by the aid of legions and troops of cavalry ; an effect which will 
never be produced.'* Lambinus. 

* Time undisturbed.] Ver. 45. Vacuum tempus, I have translated 

56 LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 45-69. 

But if we see that sach suppositions and expectations are ridi- 
culous and mer^/y, objects of derision, and that in reality the 
fears and pursuing cares of men dread neither the sound of 
arms nor cruel weapons, and mingle boldly among kings and 
rulers of affairs, nor shrink before the brightness gleaming 
from gold, or the shining splendour of a purple garment, why 
do you doubt but that to produce these effects is wholly the 
office of reason,^ especially when all our life labours under the 
darkness of ignorance? For as children tremble ^ and fear 
every thing in thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear some- 
times things which are not more to be feared than those 
which children dread, and imagine about to happen, in the 
dark. This terror of the mind, therefore, it is not the 
rays of the sun or the bright arrows of day that must dis- 
pel, but the contemplation of nature, and the exercise of 

Attend now, therefore, and I will explain to thee by what 
motions ^ the generative bodies of matter produce various things, 
and resolve them when produced ; and by what force they 
are thus compelled to act, and what activity has been com- 
municated to them for passing through the mighty void 
of space. Do thou remember to give thyself wholly to my 

For, assuredly, matter does not constantly cohere as being 
closely condensed in itself, since we see every object dimin- 
ished, and perceive that all things flow away, as it were, 
through length of time, and that age withdraws them from our 

tempua "time," though Lambinus said^ that if it were genuine it 
must mean "the head," and, concluding it spurious, substituted 
pectus. ^ Wakefield replaced tempua, aptly adducing Ter. Heant. I. i. 
38. Sine me, vacivom tempua ne quod dem mihi Laboris. 

* Wholly the office of reason.] Ver. 52. Omni' ait hmc rationi' po^ 
testaa, ' ^ For h<Bc omnia potest ration or hsc aola poteat ratio. ' ' Preigerua. 

* For as children tremble, S^c.'] Ver. 54. Nam velutipueri trepidant, 
&c. See on iii. 88. 

* I will explain to thee by what motions, 4r<;«] Ver. 61. "This is 
the argument of the second book. He promises that he will Jirat 
explain the motions of atoms, by which things are produced and 
dissolved ; secondly, the cause ; and thirdly, the swiftness, of those 
motions." Creech. — Compelled to act, ^r^.J Ver. 63. "On account 
of innate motion ; for, unless this be supposed, another origin of 
things must be sought, and recourse must be had to the gods." 

B. II. 70-92. LUCRETIUS. 57 

eyes ; while, nevertheless, the sum of all seems to remain un- 
decayed. And this happens for this reason, that the particles 
of matter which depart from each object, lessen the object from 
which they depart, and endow with increase the object or objects 
to which they have transferred themselves ; and oblige the 
former to decay, but the latter, on the contrary, to flourish. 
Nor do they continue always in the place to which they have 
gone; and thus the sum of things is perpetually renewed, and 
the races of mortal men subsist by change and transference 
from one to the other. Some nations increase, others are di- 
minished, and, in a short space of time, the tribes of living 
creatures are changed by successive generations, and, like the 
racers3^eli>:jet tha torch * of life from hand to hand. 

If you think that the elemental-atoms of things can remain 
at rest, and can, by remaining at rest, generate fresh motions 
of things, you stray with a wide deviation from true reason. 
For, since the primary-particles of all things wander through 
the void of space, they must necessarily be aH CBrned forwards 
by their own gravity, or, as it may chance, by the force of 
another body; for when, being often moved, they, meeting, 
have struck against one another, it happens that they suddenly 
start asunder in different directions ; since neither is it to be 
wondered at that bodies should do so, which are of the ut- 
most hardness, and of solid weight.; nor, it is to be observed, 
does any thing behind oppose their motion,^ And that you 
may the more clearly understand that all the atoms of matter 
are tossed about and hept in motion, remember that in the 
sum of the whole, or in the entire universe, there is no lowest 
place; nor has it any point where the primary atoms may 

* Like the racers, deliver the torch, 4rc.] Ver. 78. Et quasi cunores 
vital lampada iradunt, " At this time [the feast of Vulcan at Athens] 
there was a race with torches, called *Ay(av Xafiwadovxos, in the 
academy ; the manner of which was thus : the antagonists were 
three young men, one of whom being appointed by lot to take his 
turn first, took a lighted torch in his hand and began his course ; he 
delivered it to the second^ and he in like manner to the third. The 
victory was his who carried the torch lighted to the race's end." 
Potter's Antiq. of Greece, book ii. ch. xx. See Pausan. in Att. 33, 
Plato de Rep. i. 1, and de Legg. vii. 18, TtvviSvTdg n kcLi Iktos^ov' 
rag vaiSaQy Ka^d VEp XafitrdSa rbvQiov vapadidovTaQ dWoiQ i^ aWtav, 

' Nor--(does any thing behind oppose their motion,'] Ver. 87. 
Nee quicquam a tergo ibua obstet, ** For empty space oners no ob- 
struction." Faber, 

58 LUCRETIUS. B. ii. 93—121. 

make a stand ; since space is without bound and limit, and 
shows of itself^ by many indications, that it extends around in- 
finite in every direction. And this has been proved by indis- 
putable argument.^ 

Which immensity of space being admitted, there was evi- 
dently allowed no rest to the primary atoms passing through 
the void profound ; but rather, driven by perpetual and con- 
stant motion, part, when struck by other atoms, rebound to a 
great distance, and part also, when struck, rebounding only to 
short distances, are caught and intertwined, as it were, by the 
stroke of the particles that come in contact with them» And 
whatsoever particles being brought together in a more close 
congeries, rebound only to small distances, as being involved 
by their own entangling shapes, these form the strong sub- 
stance of rock, and the rigid consistence of iron, and a few 
other things of their kind, and of similar hardness. Other 
particles again, which wander through the vast void of space, 
fly, when struck, far off, and rebound away to great distances ; 
these supply to us the thin air and radiant light of the sun. 

And many atoms besides wander through the great void, 
which are rejected by combinations of bodies, and have no 
where been able, admitted into union, to associate their motions 
with other atoms. Of which circumstance, as I conceive,^ an 
example and image is, from time to time, moving and present 
before our eyes. For, behold, whensoever the beams of the 
sun pour themselves through a chink into the dark parts of 
houses, you will see, in the light of the rays, many minute 
particles throughout the open space, mingled together in many 
ways, and, as it were, in perpetual conflict, exhibiting battles 
and fights, contending in companies, nor allowing any pause 
to their strife, being agitated by frequent concussions and se- 
parations ; so that you may conjecture, from this spectacle^ 
what it is for the primary-particles of things to' be perpetually 

* Proved by indisputable argument.] Ver. 93. Certd et ratione 
probatum est See the argument from the throwing of a dart, i. 967. 

* As I conceive.] Ver. 111. Uti memoro. Such appears to be the 
meaning which we must give to memoro in this passage. The com- 
mentators are silent, except Creech, who gives expUco, Good has, 
"if aright I deem; " and Coutures, "ce me semble." We must 
suppose it to be used in a middle sense, / cause myself to recollect, or 
/ think. But some manuscripts, says Pius, have mem^abo, which we 
ought perhaps to adopt. 


B. II. 120—151 LUCRETIUS. 59 

tossed about in the great void. Assuredly a small thing may 
give an example, and traces leading to the knowledge of great 
things. On this account it is more fitting that you should give 
your attention to these motes which seem to confuse one an- 
other in the rays of the sun ; because such disorders signify that 
there secretly-exist tendencies to motion also in the principles 
of matter, though latent and unapparent to our senses. For 
you will see there, among those atoms is the sun-beam^ many, 
struck with imperceptible forces, change their course, and turn 
back, being repelled sometimes this way, and sometimes that, 
every where, and in all directions. And doubtless this er- 
rant-motion ^ in all these atoms proceeds from the primary 
elements of matter; for the first primordial-atoms of things 
are moved of themselves ; and then those bodies which 
are of light texture, and are, as it were, nearest to the na- 
ture of the primary elements, being urged by secret im- 
pulses of those elements^ are put into motion, and these lat- 
ter themselves, moreover, agitate others which are somewhat 
larger. Thus motion ascends from the first principles, and 
spreads forth by degrees, so as to be apparent to our senses, 
and so that those atoms are moved before us, which we 
can see in the light of the sun ; though it is not clearly 
evident by what impulses they are thus moved. 

And now, O Memmius, what activity and swiftness of mo- 
tion^ has been given to the original atoms of matter, you may 
learn from what follows. In the first place, when Aurora 
sprinkles the earth with new light, and the various birds, flit- 
ting through the pathless groves, fill every part, amid the soft 
air, with their liquid notes ; how suddenly, at such a time, the 
rising sun, overspreading all things, is wont to clothe them with 
his rays, we observe to be visible and manifest to all. But that 
heat, and clear light, which the sun sends forth, do not pass 
through mere empty space ; on which account, it is compelled 
to go more slowly, because it has thus to force a passage 

* And doubtless this errant-motion, ^c] Ver. 131. Scilicet hied 

principOs est omnibtts error ; Prima mwentur enim per te primordia rerum, 

" In this manner all other parts of matter are tossed and wander 

about, the commencement of motion being derived from the primary 

particles." Lambinua, Observe that omnibus is the dative case. 

' What activity — of motion, §*c.] Ver. 141. "He now proceeds 
to prove by an argument or comparison fl mtnoW, with what activity 
primordial atoms are endowed." Lambinut. 


60 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 162—178. 

through the flood of air ; nor do the particles of heat pass 
every one singly, but connected and combined together ; for 
which reason they are, at the same time, both retarded by 
one another, and externally obstructed, so as to be obliged 
to proceed less rapidly. But the primordial-atoms, which are 
of pure solidity,! when they pass through empty space,^ and 
nothing external retards them; and when^ moreover, they 
themselves, being one and uncompounded in all their parts, 
are to that one place borne onwards, by their own tendency,' 
to which they have begun to proceed, must be thotight, it, is 
evident, to excel in swiftness, and to be carried forwards 
much more rapidly than the light of the sun, and to run 
through a much greater region of space ^ in the same time as 
the beams of the sun traverse the heaven. For neither have 
they to delay, being retarded by deliberation how they shall 
proceed, nor have they to pursue the neighbouring atoms one 
after the other, that they may learn by what method every 
thing is to be done. 

But some ignorant persons, in opposition to these opinions, 
think that the nature of matter cannot, without the will and 
providence of the gods, be ordered so suitably to human plans 
and conveniences, as to change the seasons of the year, and to 
produce the fruits of the earth, and to effect also other things 
in which the directress of life, divine Pleasure, prompts mor- 
tals, and herself leads them, to engage ; so that they may pro- 
pagate their kind through the allurement of gratification, 
lest the race of men should perish. For whose sake, when 
they imagine that the gods settled all things, they seem in all 
respects to have departed far from just reasoning. For though 
I were ignorant what the primary-elements of things were, 
yet this I could venture to assert from a contemplation of the 

* Of pure solidity.] Ver. 156. Solida—simplicitate, ** Of solid sim- 
plicity. The same expression is used, i. 549, 575, 610. 

' Pass through empty space.] Ver. 157. Per inane meant vacuum. 
That is, each being surrounded with vacuum ; not coming in con- 
tact with other atoms. 

* By their own tendency.] Ver. 159. Connixa, 

^ A much greater region of space.] Ver. 162. Multiplex loci apatittm. 
The same phrase occurs, iv. 208. Scheller, in his Lexicon, inter- 

frets mtdtipleXf in this passage, " extensive, large, great." But as 
livv, vii. 8, uses multiplex comparatively, multiplex numenu — quim 
— , 1 think Creech right in explaining multiplex spatium by mtUto ma- 
Jus epatium. 

B. II. 179—210. LUCRETIUS. 61 

nature of heaven itself, and to demonstrate from manj other 
things, that the world was by no means made for us by divine 
power ; although these opinions incur reprehension among 
the generality of mankind. Which matters^ O Memmius, I 
will make clear to you hereafter ; we will now explain what 
remains to be said concerning the motions of atom>s. 

This is now the place, as I think, in discussing these sub- 
jects, to make plain to you, that no corporeal substance can, of 
its own proper force, be borne and advance upwards ; lest the 
particles of flame should deceive you in this matter. For 
though they are produced upwards, and teke increase upwards, 
yet also the smiling corn, and groves, have their growth up- 
wards ; though all weights, as far as is in them, are borne down- 
wards. Nor, when fire springs up to the roofs of houses, and 
consumes the beams and rafters with a swift flame, is it to be 
thought that it does so without a compelling force ; as is the 
case, for example, when blood, sent forth from our body, 
spouts out, springing up on high, and sprinkling abroad a 
purple stream. Do you not see, also, with how strong a force 
the liquid substance of water repels beams and logs of wood? 
Do you not observe how, the more we have, on any occasion, 
urged them straight downwards, and have powerfully pressed 
them doion with gr^at force and with difficulty, so the more 
eagerly the water casts them back and sends them upwards, 
so that they rise up and leap forth with a larger portion of their 
substance?^ And yet -we do not doubt, I suppose, that these 
bodies, as far as is in them, are all borne downwards through 
empty space. Thus, accordingly, flames must also have the 
power to rise, when driven up, through the air of heaven, al- 
though their own weights, as far as is in them, strive to draw 
them downwards. Do you not, moreover, see that meteors in 
the night, flying through the height of heaven, draw long tracks 
of flame in whatever directions nature has given them a passage ? 
Do you not see shooting stars fall to the earth ? The sun, also, 
from the highest point of the sky, spreads abroad his heat on 

^ Leap forth with a larger portion of their substance,'] Ver. 200. 
Plus ut parte foroB emergant exsiliantque, * * They naturally rose above 
the water at first with a certain portion of their bulk ; but, after 
being pressed down, they start up above it with a still greater por- 
tion.^' Wakefield. 

62 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 211—238 

all sides, and covers the fields with his light ? The heat of 
the sun, therefore, also tends downwards to the earth. And 
you observe likewise the lightnings fly through the oblique 
showers ; the fires, bursting from the clouds, rush sometimes 
in one way, sometimes in another ; and the body of flame falls 
very frequently to the earth. ^ 

In reference to these subjects, also, we wish you to under- 
stand this ; that the particles-of-matter, when they are borne 
downwards straight through the void of space^ do for the most 
part, by their own weights, at some timcy though at no fixed 
and determinate time^ and at some points^ though at no fixed 
and determinate points, turn aside ^ from the right line, but 
only so far as you can caH the least possible deviation. 

But unless the atoms were accustomed to decline from the 
right liney they would all fall straight down, through the void 
profound, like drops of rain through the air; nor would there 
have ^been any contact produced, or any collision generated 
amon^ the primary-elements ; and thus nature would never 
have produced any thing. 

But if, perchance, any one believes that the heavier bodies, 
as being borne, more swiftly, straight through the. void of 
space, might fall from above on the lighter ones, and thus 
produce concussions, which might give rise to generative 
movements, he deviates and departs ^r from just reasoning. 
For whatsoever bodies fall downwards through the water and 
the air, they, of necessity, must quicken their motions accord- 
ing to their weights, inasmuch as the dense consistence of 
water, and the subtle substance of the air, cannot equally re- 
tard every body, but jdeld sooner to the heavier bodies, being 
overcome by them. But, on the contrary, a pure vacuum can 
afford no resistance to any thing, in any place, or at any time, 
but must constantly allow it the free passage which its nature 
requires. For which reason all bodies, when put into motion, 

^ Falls very frequehtly to the earth.] Ver. 215. Cadit in terrag — 
volgb. For volgb Creech ffives passim ; Wakefield seems to take it in the 
sense of non rarhj which I prefer. 

2 Particles-of-matter turn aside.] Ver. 216^ seq. Had all 

atoms descended through space in straight lines, like drops in a 
shower of rain, falling perpendicularly, there could have been no 
collisions, and no generative motions. Epicurus, therefore, found 
it necessary to make them, or some of them, deviate from the straight 

B. II. 239-259. LUCRETIUS. 63 

must be equally borne onwards, though^ot of equal weights, 
through the unresisting void. The heavier atoms will, there- 
fore, never be able to fall from above on the lighter, nor, of 
themselves, produce concussions which may vary the motions 
by which n^ure perfonns her operations,^ 

For which cause, it must again and again be acknowledged 
that atoms decline a little from the straight course, though it 
need not be admitted that they decline more than the least 
possible space ; lest we should seem to imagine oblique 
motions, and truth should refute that supposition. For this 
we see to be obvious and manifest, that heavy bodies, as far 
as depends on themselves, cannot, when they fall from above, 
advance obliquely ; a fact which you may yourself see. But 
who is there that can see ^ that atoms do not at all turn them- 
selves aside, even in the least, from the straight direction of 
their course ? 

Further, if all motion is connected and dependent, and a 
new movement perpetually arises fi:om a former one in a cer- 
tain order, and, j^the primary-elements do not produce any 
commencement of motion by deviating from the straight line 
to break the laws of fate, so that cause may not follow cause 
in infinite succession, whence comes this freedom of will to all 
animals in the world ?^ whence, I say, is this liberty of action 
wrested from the fates, by means of which we go whereso- 
ever inclination leads each of us? whence is it that we ourselves 
turn aside and alter our motions, not at any filed time, nor 

* But who is there that can see, S^c."] Ver. 249. Sed nihil omnino 
recta regione via'i decUnare, qyis est, qui poiiit cemere, sese f You must 
admit this declination from the straight line, says Epicurus, for who 
can see that there is no such declination? See Lambinus. Many 
other admissions Epicurus calls upon his disciples to make on si- 
milar grounds. 

Yet that no bodies in the least are tum'd, 

What searching sight hath ever yet discem'd ? Busby. 

* Whence comes this freedom of will to all animals in the world?] 
Ver. 256. Libera per terras unde hcec animantibus extat — voluntas^ 
** Whence is our liberty of action? Ask of the atoms themselves : 
if their motion be invariably direct, there arises from this motion a 
chain of fate and necessity ; if there be collision, (supposing collision 
to take place with perfectly direct motion,) there anses from it the 
same necessitv. To declension from the right line only, therefore, 
can liberty of action be attributable." Creech. See Cicero de Fato, 
and de Nat. Deor. book i. 

64 ' LUCRETIUS. B. II. 260-291. 

in any fixed part of space, but just as our mind has prompted 
us. For doubtless, in such matters, his own will gives a com- 
mencement of action to every man ; and hence motions are 
diffused through the limbs. Do you not see also, that when 
the barriers on the race-course are set open at a certain in- 
stant, yet the eager strength of the horses cannot spring for- 
ward so suddenly as the inclination itself desires ? For the 
whole mass of matter throughout the whole body, excited 
in all the members, must be collected,^ aind roused, simul- 
taneously into action, that it may second the desire of the 
mind in connexion with it ; so that you may see that the 
commencement of motion is produced from the heart, and that 
the tendency to act proceeds in the first place from the in- 
clination of the mind, and is thence spread onwards through 
the whole body and its members. 

Nor is this similar to the case in which we go forwards, 
when impelled by a blow, from the great strength and violent 
compulsion of another person, for then it is evident that the 
whole matter of the entire body moves, and is hurried on- 
wards, against our consent, until the will, acting throughout 
the members, has reined it back. Do you now see, therefore, 
that although external force drives along many men, {that is, 
often drives men along,) and compels them frequently to go 
forwards against their will, and to be hurried away headlong, 
yet that there is something in our breast which can struggle 
against and oppose it ; according to the direction of which, 
also, the aggregate of matter within us is at times obliged to 
be guided throughout our several limbs and members, and, 
when driven forward, is curbed, and sinks down into rest? 
Wherefore you must necessarily confess that the same is the 
case in the seeds of matter, and that there is some other cause 
for motion besides strokes and weight, from which this power 
is innate in them, since we see that nothing can be produced 
from nothing. For weight forbids that all effects should be 
produced by strokes, and as if by external force ; but the cir- 
cumstance that our mind itself is not influenced merely by in- 
ternal necessity in performing every action, and is not, as if 
under subjection, compelled only to bear and suffer, this cir- 

* Mass of matter must be collected.] Ver. 266. Omnia enim 

totum per corptta mater ia'i Copia conquiri debeL Some manuscripts 
have conciri. 

B. II. 292— 319. LUCRETIUS. 65 

cumstance thes^ght declination of the primordial-atoms causes, 
though it takes place neither in any determinate part of space, 
nor at any determinate time. 

Nor was the general body of matter ever more condensed * 
together, or, on the other hand, distributed in parts at greater 
intervals, thaii it is at present. For to that body neither does 
any increase ever take place, nor is any diminution made /ram 
it through decay. For which reason, in whatever motion the 
atoms of primordial seeds are now, in the same motion they 
were in past time, and hereafter will always be moved in a 
similar manner ; and whatever things have been wont to be 
produced, will stiU be produced under like circumstances, and 
will exist, and grow, and acquire strength, as far as has been 
granted to each by the laws of nature ; nor can any influence 
change the sum of things. For neither is there any part of 
space to which any kind of matter can fly off" from the whole, 
nor, again, is there any part from which any new force, hav- 
ing arisen therCy can burst in upon the whole, and thus 
change the entire order of things and alter its movements. 

In these matters, it is not at all to be regarded as wonder- 
ful, why, when all the primordial-elements of things are in 
motion, yet the whole ef things seems to stand in perfect 
rest, except whatever individual thing exhibits motion in its 
own body.^ For the entire nature of original-principles lies 
far removed from our senses, and beneath them; for which 
cause, when you cannot see the thing itself, its motions must 
also hide themselves from your eyes; especially when even 
many things that we can see, nevertheless often conceal their 
motions from us, as being separated from us by a great dis- 
tance. For frequently, upon a hill, we may observe a flock of 
woolly sheep spread about, cropping the rich pasture, where- 
soever the grass, gemmed with fresh dew, calls and invites 

-* Nor was the ffeneral hody of matter ever more condensed, §*c.] 
Ver. 294. Nee ttipata magisfuit unquam, Ijfc, ** That the primary par- 
ticles cannot be changed, he has already shown ; he now asserts 
that matter, considered generally, was never distributed at less or 
greater intervals than at present ; for not an atom perishes to cause 
a hiatus in matter, and no new atom is generatea to increase the 
density of matter.'* Creech, 

' Except whatever indimdual thing exhibits motion in its own 
body.] Vftr. 311. PrteterqiMin si quid proprio dot corpore mottta. "As 
the air, the water, the heaven, the stars, &c." Faber. 

^ LUCRETIUS. B. IL 320—344. 

each ; wliile the full-fed lambs sport and frisk about with de- 
light : all which objects, from a distance, appear to us con- 
fused, and only a whiteness, as it were, seems to rest upon the 
green hill. Also, when vast legions fill all the parts of a 
plain, stirring up the image of war, the gl^am of arms then 
raises itself to the sky, and all the land around glitters with 
brass, while a sound is excited by the force, beneath the feet 
of the men, and the neighbouring hills, struck with the noise, 
re-echo the shouts of the troops to the stars of heaven ; and the 
cavalry, at the same time, swiftly- wheel about, and suddenly 
charge across the plains in the centre, shaking them with 
their violent onset ; aU these jare distinct objects, and yet there 
is a certain spot on the high hills, whence, if you hoh down, 
they seem to rest on the ground as one body, and only a con- 
tinuous brightness to settle over the field. 

Attend now, Memmius,^ and learn, in the next place, of 
what nature the primordial-elements of things' are, and how 
very different they are in their forms ; how they are varied 
by manifold shapes. Not that a few only are endowed with 
like ^otm, for those alihe areinnumerable,hut because, through- 
out the whole,^ all are not similar to all, but are varied with 
great differences. Nor is this wonderful ; for since the abund- 
ance of them is such, that, as I have shown, there is neither 
any limit nor sum of them, they must not, and cannot, assured- 
ly, be all universally endowed with a like figure and like shape 
to all others.^ 

Besides, consider the human race, and the mute swarms of 
fishes swimming in the sea, and the abundant herds of cattle 
and wild beasts, and the various birds, which frequent the 

* Attend now, O Memmitu, §•«.] Ver. 333. " He first shows that 
atoms differ in shape ; next, that their differences of shape are finite ; 
and then that atoms of each shape are infinite." Lambiniu. 

» Throughout the whole.] Ver. 337. Volgb. 

' Like figure and like shape to all others,] Ver. 341. 

Debent nimirum non omnibus omnia prorsiun 
Esse pari filo, similique affectu figur&. 

Lamhinus interprets^ bv texturd,a,nd Scheller, in his Lexicon, citing 
this passage, makes it "kindf nature,'* But as Lucretius is here 
speaking merely of the forma of atoms, it is evidently to be rendered 
outline or figure y as in v. 673 : 

Forma quoque hinc solis debet filumque videri. 

See also v. 687, atque alibi. 

B. II. 346—375. LUCRETIUS. 67 

pleasant places about the waters, upon the banks of rivers, 
fountains, and lakes, and which, flitting through the trees, 
traverse the pathless groves ; of which select any one you 
please, in the several kinds, for contemplation, and you will 
still find that they differ from one another in their forms. 
Nor, indeed, could the progeny, by any other means, know its 
mother, or the mother her progeny ; whereas we see that in- 
ferior animals, not less than men, are known to each other. 
For, on many occasions, a calf, sacrificed at the frankin- 
cense-burning altars, falls before the beauteous temples of 
the gods, pouring forth a warm stream of blood from its 
breast ; but the mother, meanwhile, deprived of her young, 
wandering through the green forests, leaves traces imprinted 
on the ground with her cloven feet, surveying all places with 
her eyes, if any where she may discern her lost offspring, and 
then, standing still, fills the leafy grove with her complaints ; 
she also frequently goes back to look at the stall, penetrated 
with regret for her calf ; nor are the tender willows, or the 
grass fresh with dew, or any streams, gliding level with the 
top of their banks, able to soothe her feelings, and drive away 
her sudden affliction ; nor can any other forms of calves, over 
the fertile pastures, divert her attention or lighten her of her 
care ; so perseveringly does she require some shape that is 
familiar and known to her. Moreover, the tender kids, with 
their tremulous voices, know, as they plainly indicate, their 
homed dams, and sheep distinguish the bleating of the butting 
lamb ; and thus, as nature requires, each hastens invariably 
to its own milky udder. ^ 

Lastly, contemplate any sorts of com,^ and still you will not 
find the whole of each in its own kind, or all the grains of each, 
to have such a mutual resemblance, but that some difference 
will run between their fbrms. And in like manner we see the 
various sorts of shells paint the lap of the earth, where the sea, 

* Each hastens invariably, S^c.'\ Ver. 370. Ad sua quisgue fere de- 
currunt ubera kutis. For ** fere," generally, or, as I have rendered it, 
invariably y Wakefield reads " feri," beasts, 

* Lastly, contemplate any sorts of com, S^c,"] Ver. 371. 

Postremb quodvis frumentum, non tamen omne, 
Quidque suo genere, inter se simile esse videbis. 

" With quodvis frumentttm understand sumere perge from ¥er. 347." 

p 2 

68 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 376-404. 

with gentle waves, strews the hihiiloiis sand on the winding 
shore.^ Again and again, therefore, / repeat^ the primordial 
atoms of things, since they exist in ikeir own nature, and are 
not fashioned to a certain shape hy the hand of one artificer, 
most likewise circulate thrtm^h the universe in certain shapes 
dissimilar one from another. 

It is very easy for ns, then, by the clear guidance of rea- 
son, to explain why the flame of lightning passes through the 
air with much more penetration than our ^re^ which arises 
from fuel of the earth. For you may jusdy argue that the 
celestial fire of lightning, as being more subtle, consists of 
smaller atoms, and therefore flies through diminutive passages, 
which this fire of ours, taking its rise from wood, and pro- 
duced by torches, cannot enter. 

Besides, light passes through horn, but water is repelled 
by it. Why? unless that the atoms of light are less than 
those of which the genial liquid of water consists. 

Wine, also, we olServe to flow as quickly as possible through 
a strainer, but thick oil, on the contrary, moves through it 
slowly ; because, as it appears, the latter either consists of 
larger atoms, or of such as are more hooked and involved 
with one another. And thus it happens, that the individual 
atoms, not being so quickly detached from their coherence 
with each other, cannot so easily pass tlu-ough the individual 
pores of any body. 

To this is added, that the liquids of honey and milk are 
moved about in the mouth with a pleasant sensation to the 
tongue ; but, on the contrary, the bitter substance of worm- 
wood, and acrid centaury,* torment the palate with a disa- 
greeable taste ; so that you may easily infer that those things 
which can affect the senses with pleasure, consist of smooth 
and round particles ; but that, on the other hand, whatever 
things seem bitter and rough, are held united together of par- 

* Strews the bibulous sand, ^cJ] Ver. 376. Litoria incurvi bibtUam 
pavit aqttor arenam, " Parity that is, atemity from the Greek iratcu, 
with Aigamma inserted." Wakefield. 

^ Acrid centaury.] Ver. 400. Feri Centauri. Creech considers 
ferusy in this passage, to have much the same meaning as teter^ 
(which is immediately before applied to wonmooody) or tristiSy (which 
is applied to centaury y iv. 124,) and ridicules Fayus for thinking that 
it meant *' agrestis," wi^f^. "The whole plant is of an exceeding 
bitter taste.' CiUpeper^s Eng. Physician. 

B. II. 405—436. LUCRETIUS. 69 

tides more hooked ; and that, on this account, they are ac- 
customed, as it were, to tear a waj to our feelings, and to 
wound the skin of our body at their entrance. 

Furthermore, all things which are pleasing to the senses, 
and all which are to the touch unpleasant, are opposed to each 
other, being formed of atoms of a different shape ; that you 
may not, perchance, imagine that the sharp stridor of the 
creaking saw consists of elements equally smooth with the 
melodious notes of music, which musicians form upon the 
strings, awaked, as it were, by their swiftly-moving fingers ; 
and that you may not suppose that atoms of like form pene- 
trate the nostrils of men, when they bum offensively-smelling 
carcasses, and when the stage is freshly sprinkled with Cilician 
saffron,^ and the altar, near at hand, exhales Panchsean odours. 
Nor conceive that pleasing colours, which can feast the eye 
fvith delight, and those which are, as it were, pungent to the 
sight, and compel us to shed tears, or which seem ugly and 
hideous with a repulsive look, consist of like seminal-atoms. 
For every object, whatever it be, that soothes the sense ot 
the beholders, is not produced without some smoothness in its 
elements, but, on the contrary, whatever is of a disagreeable 
and rough consistence, has not been formed without something 
offensive in its material-principles. 

There are some atoms, also, which are neither justly 
thought to be smooth, nor altogether hooked with bent 
points, but rather to be furnished with small angles slightly 
jutting out, and which have the power rather to titillate the 
sense than to wound it ; of which kind of atoms consist pickle^ 
and the taste of elecampane. 

Moreover that warm fire and cold frost penetrate the feel- 
ings of the body differently, as being composed of atoms 
pointed in different ways, the touch of each is a sufficient 
indication. For the touch, the touch, (O sacred deities of 
heaven ! ) is a sense of the body ; and is affected either when 
something external insinuates itself through the pores, or 
when something which is generated in the body, hurts or 

* Sprinkled with Cilician saffron.] Ver. 416. Croco Cilici pefrfwa. 
"Theatres were sprinkled with safiron mixed with wine, as Pliny 
relates.** Pretgenu, Croc^m floresqite perambtUet Attts Fabtda, Hor. 
Ep. ii. 1, 70. 

■ Pickle.] Ver. 430. Fueeula, " On fmcula and garum, read the 
commentators on Hor. Sat. ii. 8, 7. Faber, 

'70 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 437—469. 

delights it in issuing forth, as in the genial exercises of 
Venus ; or when the seeds, from striking against each others 
raise a tumult in the body itself, and, by mutual agitation, 
confound the sense ; as if, for example, you yourself should 
strike any part of your own body, and make trial of this 
sensation. For which reason forms of substance, which can 
excite various feelings, must necessarily be' far different in 
their elementary-principles. 

Further, those bodies that seem to us hard and dense, must 
necessarily consist of particles more locked with one another, 
and be held closely compacted,^ as it were, by branching atoms. 
Among which land of bodies^ adamantine rocks, naturally- 
adapted to despise blows, stand pre-eminently in the first rank : 
as well as stout flints, and the strength of hard iron, and 
brazen hinges, which, as they support the weight of their gates, 
make a loud grating sound.^ 

Those bodies, indeed, which are liquid and of a fluid sub- 
stance, must consist, more than harder bodies, of smooth and 
round atoms; (for a draught of poppy-juice® is even as yield- 
ing, and as much of a liquid, as a draught of water ;) since 
their several collections-of-particles are not held together 
rigidly among themselves, and their progress along a descent 
is voluble and easy. 

All things, moreover, which you see scatter themselves in 
a short space of time, as smoke, clouds, and flames, must neces- 
sarily, if they do not wholly consist of smooth and round par- 
ticles, yet not be bound together with complex ones ; so that, 

* Compacted.] Ver. 446. Compacta, " Compacted " is not a word 
in general use, but is foimd in Hooker, and quoted by Johnson. 

' Brazen hinge$, which — make a loud ^ohn^ sound.] Ver. 450. 
JEraque^ qwB clattstria restantia voeiferantur, daustra here means gates 
or doors, ** Restantia quasi sustinerUia.y Faber. " ^ra^ brass, that 
is, hinges of brass, which creak with the weight of the gates." Creech, 

• For a draught of poppy juice, ^c] Ver. 453. Namqite papaveris 
hattstus item est facilis quod aquarwn, Lambinus thought this verse 
spurious, and ejected it ; nor did any editor offer to restore it till 
Wakefield. Lachmann retains it, but alters quod into quasi, Lucre- 
tius, if it be genuine, meant to say in it that one bod^ which is fairly 
fluid is as much a fluid as any other that is fairly fluid. Good, who 
professes to adhere to Wakefield's text, passes the verse in silence^ 

—<jlomeramina, in the next line, is eviaently coUections of particles^ 
as Lambinus understood it ; not round particles, as Creech will 
have it. 

B. II. 460—479. LUCRETIUS. 7 1 

being as they are^ they may have a pungent effect upon the 
body,^ and penetrate rocks, but cannot cohere together; a power 
which we all see to be granted to thorns. You may easily 
understand, therefore, that they do not consist of hooked and 
complicated, but of acute atoms. ' 

But that you should observe the same bodies, which are 
fluid, to be bitter, as is the liquid of the sea, is by no means 
to be wondered at by any one. For that which is fluid, cour 
sists of smooth and round particles; and with these smooth 
and round particles are mixed pungent particles causing 
pain. Nor yet is it necessary that these atoms should hold , 
themselves together by being hooked ; for you may be certain 
that though the particles are rough, they are yet globose, so 
that they may flow among those of the fluid, though st the same 
time they may hurt the sense. And that you may the more cer- 
tainly believe that rough are mixed with smooth particles, of 
both of which, for instance, the mass of the waters of the 
ocean consists, there is, I may mention, a method of separating 
them and considering them apart. The same water of the sea, 
for example, becomes sweet,^ when it is often Altered through 
the earth, so that it may flow, as you may sometimes see, into 
a trench, and thus lose its saltness. For it leaves above, or near 
the surface of the earth, the particles of bitter salt, which are 
rough and jagged; so that they more easily inhere in the 

Which point since I have now demonstrated, I shall proceed 
to join tvith it another proposition, which, depending on this, 

* May have a pungent effect upon the body.] Ver. 460. Pun- 
gereuH possint corpus. " As they are easily dissipated, they do not 
consist of atoms that link together, hut as they can stimulate the 
senses, (as mist and smoke affect the eyes,) and can penetrate hard 
bodies, (as fire enters iron and stone,) they cannot consist wholly 
of atoms that are smooth and round." Creech, 

• The same water of the sea — becomes sweet, is^J] Ver. 474. On 
this passage Good happily refers to Thomson's Autumn, ver. 741. 

Some sages say, that where the numerous wave 
For ever lashes the resounding shore, 
Drill'd through the sandy stratum, every way, 
The waters with the saivdy stratum rise ; 
Amid whose angles infinitely strained. 
They jojrful leave their ,^5^ ^^"^ benind, 
And clear and sweeten as they soak along. 

72 LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 480—604. 

derives its credit from it ; that the primary-atoms of things vary 
in figure, but only with a limited number of shapes.^ If this 
were not so, softi^ seminal-principles would, moreover, necessa- 
rily be of an immense bulk of body. For this is evident^ be- 
cause within the same individual minute-frame of any one 
seminal-principle, the figures or arrangements of its parts 
cannot vary much among themselves. Since, suppose that the 
primary-principles consist q/* a certain definite number of very 
small parts ; say three, or increase them, if you please, by a 
few more ; assuredly when, after arranging all those parts, 
and altering the place of the highest and lowest parts of that 
one body, and changing the right for the left, you shall have 
tried in every way what representation of forms each arrange- 
ment of the whole of that body offers, if perchance you shall 
wish still further to vary its forms, you will have to add 
other parts ; and from thence will follow, in like manner, that 
a ddrd arrangement will require still more, if you shall wish 
by a third arrangement s^jML to vary its forms. An increase of 
bulk, therefore, follows upon the variation of shapes; for 
which reason you cannot believe that seminal-principles differ 
from one anodier by an infinite variety of shapes ; lest, by such 
a supposition, you should make some to be of immense bulk ; 
which I have idready shown that it is not possible to prove. 

And if such were the case, if the figures of atoms were in-- 
finite, barbaric garments, and shining Melibcean purple,^ tinged 
with the dye of shell-fish from Thessaly, as well as the golden 
brood of peacocks, painted with smiling beauty, would-lose- 
their-estimation in your eyes, being thrown-into-the-shade by 
the new beauty of fresh objects ; the perfume of myrrh and 
the taste of honey would be despised ; and the melodies of 

* That the primary-atoms of things vary in figure, hut only with 
a limited number of shapes.] Ver. 480. Primordia rerum FinU& 
variare jigurarum ratione. Ei)icuru8 taught, that the shapes of atoms 
could not be infinite, as it is impossible to ima^ne an infinity of 
figures in a finite body. Plutarch de PUicit, Phil. i. 3. 

* Barbaric garments, and shining Meliboean purple, «rc.] Ver. 
301. ^ " If the shapes of atoms varied to infinity, there could be no 
certain and determinate extreme qualities of things in nature ; for, 
by new configurations, objects might be so altered, that something 
better than wnatever was best, and worse than whatever was worst, 
might still arise into being. Creech. 

B. II. 606—628. LUqRETIUS. 73 

swans, and the tnnes of Phoebus, varied on the chords of the 
lyre^ would, in like manner, be silenced, as being outdone by 
something new; for, in every class of things, some new thing 
might arise more excellent than others which are now thought 
the best. 

Or all things might also fall back into a worse state, as we 
have said that they might possibly rise to a better. For, in a 
retrograde order, one thing might arise, time after time, more 
disagreeable than others preceding it, to the nostrils, ears, 
imd eyes, and taste of the palate. 

Since this, however, is not so, but a certain limit set to 
things in both directions, as to what is bad and what is good, 
confines the whole, you must of necessity admit that the 
particles of matter also vary from one another only by shapes 
that are finite in number. 

Lastly, a distance, so to speah, has been defined from the 
heat of summer^ to the freezing cold of winter, and has been 
measured back from cold to heat in like manner. For the 
whole year is, or consists of, heat and cold ;^ and the moderate 
warmths <f spring and autumn lie between both the other two 
seasons, filling up the whole in succession. The seasoTis of 
spring and autumn, therefore, as made and appointed, are 
kept-distinct by a limited portion to each; since they are 
marked on each side by two points, and shut in on the one 
hand by heats, and on the other side by rigid frosts. 

Since I have now proved this, I shall proceed to join with 
it another observation, which, depending on this, derives its 
credit from it; that the primordifd-atoms of things, which 
are formed of a like figure one to the other, are infinite in 
number ; for since the diversity of their forms is finite, it ne- 
cessarily follows that those which are alike are infinite ; or it 
would appear that the sum of matter must be finite ; which 
I have proved to be impossible. 

* Lastly, o distance — has been defined from the heat of summer, 
Jrc.] Ver. 615. He introduces this observation to show that things 
in nature are limited ; that there are extreme bounds beyond which 
it is not possible to |)ass, but within which there are many interme- 
diate degrees of variation. 

• For the whole year is — heat and cold.] Ver. 517. Omnis enini 
ealor ae frigus, Wakefield understands annus, ** tamque ridiculum 
interpretem." says Lachmann, " nostrates venerabundi sequuntur." 
Lachmann nimself reads, from conjecture. Ambit enim, &c. 

74 LUCRETIUS. B. II. 529-562. 

Since I have shown this, I will now (give me your atten- 
tion) demonstrate in a few sweetly-sounding verses, that the 
atoms of matter support the whole op things, from all eter- 
nity,* by a succession 2 of movements on every side. 

For though you see in any particular re^n certain ani- 
mals to be more rare than others, and observe Nature, in those 
less rare, to be more productive,^ yet in another region and dis- 
trict, and in distant lands, it is possible that there may be many 
animals of that kind, and that the deficiency of their numbers 
in one place may be compensated in another; just as we see, 
in the race of quadrupeds, to be especially the case with the 
snake-handed elephants, with many thousands of which India 
is defended as with an ivory rampart, so that it cannot be at 
all penetrated; so great is the multitude of those beasts in 
that country, 62/^ of which we see very few specimens among us. 

But yet, that I may, if you wish, grant this also,^ let there be, 
in your imagination, any single creature you please, existing 
alone with its own natural body, and to which there may be 
no creature similar in the wholi round of the earth ; yet, un- 
less the quantity of the seeds of matter, from which that crea- 
ture may be formed and generated, shall be infinite in number, 
it will neither be possible for it to be produced, nor moreover, 
if it could be produced, to grow up and be nourished. 

For let your eyes conceive (i. e. imagine that you see) the 
generative atoms of any single thing, being limited in num- 
ber, tossed about through the whole of space ; whence, / ask, 
where, by what force, and by what means, will they, meeting 
together, unite, amid so vast an ocean of matter, and so mighty 
a confusion of dissimilar particles f They have, as I think, 

* From all eternity.] Ver. 531. Ex it\finito. " Abaeterno." Creech. 
" Ab seterno tempore.'* Lambiniu. 

' Succession.] Ver. 532. Protelo, See iv. 191. 

* And observe Nature, in those leas rare, to be moreproductive.] 
Ver. 534. Fecundamque magia naturam cemia in oUia. Tnis is Wake- 
field's reading, and Forbiger's interpretation, if interpretation it can 
be called ; for in truth the magia makes the passage sheer nonsense. 
Lambinus, and all other editors, except Wakefield, Forbiger, and 
Eichstadt, read Fecundamque minus, which Lachmann has rein- 

* But yet, that I may — grant this also.] Ver. 542. Sed tamen, id 
quoque uti concedam. Thia, namely, which follows. Another argu- 
ment to prove the infinity of material atoms, and " a more ingeni- 
ous one,' says Faber, ** than it may at first appear." 

B. II. 562-581. LUCRETIUS. 75 

no method of combiniDg themselves. But, as when great and 
numerous shipwrecks have arisen, the vast sea is wont to scat- 
ter abroad floating benches, hollow fragments ^ of vessels, sail- 
yards, prows, masts, and oars ; so that the ornaments of stems* 
may be seen swimming on all the coasts of the earth, and may 
give admonition to mortals, to resolve to avoid the treachery, 
and violence, and deceit of the faithless sea ; nor, on any oc- 
casion, to be too credulous, when the insidious flattery of the 
calm deep smiles ; so if you, in this case, shall once settle 
for yourself that certain primordial atoms are finite in number, 
you must* then allow that the different agitations of matter will 
necessarily toss them about, scattered, as they mil be, for ever ; 
so that they can at no time, being driven together, unite in 
combination, or, if they should unite, remain in combination, or 
swell with increase ; both of which effects manifest proof shows 
to occur before our eyes, namely, that things are produced, and 
that, when produced, they have the power to increase. It is 
therefore evident, that, in every class of beings, the primordial- 
elements of things, from which all are supplied, are infinite 
in number. 

Nor, therefore, inasmuch as original-elements are infinite, 
can the movements of things, which are destructive to vital 
existence, always prevail, or bury its safety for ever ; though 
neither, on the other hand, can motions productive of gener- 
ation and increase, always preserve things which have been 
formed. Thus a war of principles, grown up from the infi- 
nite space of the past, is carried on with equal strife ; the 
vital principles of things prevail sometimes in one place, 
sometimes in another, and are prevailed over in their turn. 
The wail which infants raise, when they come forth to view 
the regions of light, is mixed with funeral lamentations ; nor 
has any night followed a day, or any moming followed a night, 
which has not heard groans, the attendants of death and 
gloomy obsequies, mixed with the weak cries of infants coming 
into the world. 

* Hollow fragments.] Ver. 554. Cavemas. "This word it is easy 
to miderstand of any fragment of the interior of a ship." Wakefield. 
Other editors read gvbema. 

• Ornaments of stems.] Ver. 556. Apluatra, " In Greek ii(f>\a<rTa. 
They were ornaments, not on the prow, but on the stern ; fot the 
ornaments on the prow were called dicpo<rr6\ca." Faber, 

76 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 582—619. 

In considering these points, it is proper for jou, also, to 
have it inipressed, as with a seal, upon your mind, and to keep 
it faithftdly intrusted to your memory, that there is nothing, 
among all objects of which the nature is apparent before us, 
which consists only of one kind of elements ; nor any thing, 
which does not consist of mixed seminal-principles. And 
whatever possesses in itself more numerous powers and ener- 
gies than other things, thus demonstrates that it contains more 
numerous kinds of primary-particles and various configura- 
tions of them. 

In the first place, the earth has in itself primary at<$mi^ from 
which springs, rolling forth cool waters, incessantly recruit the 
immense sea ; it has also in itself atoms from which fires arise. 
For in many places, the soil of the earth, when set on fire, 
bums ; and the violence of ^tna rages with mighty flames. 
Moreover, the earth contains atoms from which it can raise up 
rich com and cheerful groves for the tribes of men ; and from 
which also it can afford waving leaves and abundant pasturage 
for the brood of wild beasts ranging over the mountains. For 
which reasons the earth alone is caUed the great mother of the 
gods, and mother of beasts, and parent of the human race. 

The old and learned poets of the Gieeks sung that she, in 
her seat on her chariot, drives two lions yoked together ; sig- 
nifjring that the vast earth hangs in the open space of the air, 
and that one earth cannot stand upon another earth. They 
added the lions, because any offspring, however wild, ought to 
be softened, when influenced by the good offices of parents. 
And they surrounded the top of her head with a mural crown, 
because the earth, fortified in lofty places, sustains cities ; dis- 
tinguished with which decoration the image of the divine 
mother is borne, spreading terror, through the wide world. 
Her various nations, according to the ancient practice of their 
worship, call the Idsean mother, and assign her bands of 
Phrygians as attendants, because they say that from those 
parts com first began to be produced, and thence was diffused 
over the globe of the earth. They assign to her also the 
Galli ; because they wish to intimate that those, who have 
violated the sacred-respect dtie to their mother, and have been 
found ungrateful to their fathers, are to be thought unworthy 
to bring living offspring into the realms of light. Distended 
drums, and hollow cymbals, resound in their hands around the 

B. II. 620-660. LUCRETIUS. 77 

goddess ; and their horns threaten with a hoarse noise, while 
the hollow pipe excites their minds with Phrygian notes. 
And they carry weapons outstretched before them, as signs 
of violent rage, which may alarm with terror the undutifal 
minds and impious hearts of the crowd, struck with the power 
of the goddess. 

As soon, therefore, as, riding through great cities, she, 
being dumb, bestows a silent blessing on mortals, they strew 
the whole course of the road with brass and silver, enriching 
her with munificent contributions ; while they diffuse a shower 
of voses, overshadowing the mother and her troop of attend- 
ants. Here the armed band, whom the Greeks call by the 
namie of Phrygian Curetes, dance round vigorously with ropes, ^ 
and leap about to their tune, streaming with blood. Shaking 
the terrible crests on their heads as they nod, they represent 
the Dictaean Curetes, who are formerly said, in Crete, to have 
concealed that famous infant-cry of Jup^er, when the armed 
youths, in a swift dance around the child, struck, in tune, 
their brazen shields with their brazen spears, lest Saturn, 
having got possession of him, should devour him, and cause 
an eternal wound in the heart of his mother. Either for this 
reason, therefore^ armed men accompany the great mother ; 
or else because the priests thus signify that the goddess ad- 
monishes men to be willing to defend the land of their country 
with arms and valour, and to prepare themselves to be a pro- 
tection and honour to their parents. 

TYi<^e'pageants^ though celebrated as being fitly and excel- 
lently contrived, are yet far removed from sound reason. For 
the whole race of the gods must necessarily, of itself, enjoy 
its immortal existence in the most profound tranquillity, far 
removed and separated from our affairs; since, being free from 
all pain, exempt from all dangers, powerful itself in its own 
resources, and wanting nothing of us, it is neither propitiated 

» Dance round vigorously with ropes.] Ver. 631. Inter se forti 
catenas Lttdunt, That a rope was used in dancing both by Greeks 
and Romans is known from Aristoph. Nub. 540 ; Ter. Adelph. iv. 7, 
34; Liv. xxvii. 37, and other authorities. But catenas, in this pas- 
sage, is merely from a conjecture of Turnebus, which Lambinus 
adopted. Wakefield read sorte catervisy which even Forbiger did not 
venture to retain. Lachmann reads fort^ quod armis.^Forti is for 

78 LUCEETIUS. B. II. 651-681. 

by services from the good^ nor affected with anger against 
the bad. 

The earth, indeed, is at all times void of sense, but, because 
it contains the primary elements of many things, it brings 
forth many productions, in many ways, into the light of the 
sun. K any one, then, shall resolve to call the sea Neptune, 
and com Ceres, and chooses rather to abuse the name of Bac- 
chus, than to utter the proper appellation of wine ; let us 
concede that such a one may pronounce the orb of the earth 
to be the mother of the gods, provided that it still be allowed 
to remain its real self. 

Bv^ to return, then, to the infinite variety of atoms, the 
woolly sheep, ^ we often see, cropping the grass from the same 
plain, and the warlike brood of horses, and the horned herds, 
living under the same part of the canopy of heaven, and 
quenching their thirst from the same stream of water, grow 
up of dissimilar species, retaining the parent nature; and 
aU follow habits according to their kinds ; so various is the 
nature of the matter in each kind of herb ; 'So great is ike 
variety of particles in each river. Hence, moreover, though 
the ^BjnQ parts, bones, blood, veins, heat, moisture, viscera, 
and nerves, make up any one you please of all animals, still 
these, being very different in themselves, are formed of pri- 
maiy-particles of an enHrely different figure. 

Further, whatever bodies, being set on fire, burn, show 
that there are cherished in their mass, if nothing else, those 
various seminal-atoms, from which they are enabled to throw 
forth fire and cast up light, and also to put sparks in motion, 
and scatter abroad embers. 

Surveying other things with like reasoning, you will ac- 
cordingly find that they conceal in their consistence the seeds 
of many things, and contain various conformations of atoms. 

Again, you observe many objects to which both colour and 
taste have been assigned, together with smell ; especially most 
of the gifts which you offer to the gods, when you feel your 
mind affected, in a debasing manner,^ with religion. These 

» But to return, — the woolly sheep, ^c] Ver. 660. Since different 
sorts of animals feed on the same herbs, and drink the same water, 
the herbs and water, which nourish every kind equally, must con- 
tain various sorts of seminal principles. 

' In a debasing manner.] Ver. 681. Turpi pacto. This is Wake- 

B. II. 682—707. LUCEBTIUS. 79 

things must therefore consist of various conformations of 
atoms ; for scent penetrates where juices which excite the 
taste do not make a way to the corporeal organs ; also juices 
bj their particular method, and flavour bj its particular 
method, win their way to -the senses ; so that you may know 
that they arise from different conformations of atoms. Dis- 
similar forms of particles, therefore, combine in one mass, and 
things consist of mixed seminal-principles. 

Besides, even in my own verses ^ you see every where many 
elements common to many words ; though you must neverthe- 
less necessarily acknowledge that the verses and words con- 
sist part of some elements and part of others, differing among 
themselves ; not because onfy a few common letters run througJi 
the words, or because no two words, out pf all, are alike in 
having SLuy letter in common ;^ but because, taking the words 
throughout, all the letters are not common to all. So likewise ' 
in other matters, many common elements, as they are the pri- 
mary-principles of many things, may yet exist in dissimilar 
combinations among themselves ; so that the human race, 
and the fruits of the earth, and the rich groves, may justly be 
considered to consist each of distinct original-particles. 

Nor yet is it to be thought that all particles can be com- 
bined in all ways ; for, if this were the case, you would every 
where see monsters arise ; i/ou would behold shapes produced 
half-man half-beast, and sometimes tall boughs of trees grow 
out of an animated body ; t/ou would observe many members 
of terrestrial animals united to those o/* marine animals, and 
nature breeding, throughout the all-producing earth, Chimse- 
ras breathing flame from horrid mouths. Of which irregu- 

field's reading; other editions have j^ar^o. Wakefield also conjec- 
tures yacto. 

* Besides, even in my own verses, 4f<^.] Ver. 688- He uses the 
same illustration, i. 823. 

' Or because no two words, out of all, are alike in having any letter 
in common.] Ver. 693. Aid nulld inter ae duo tint ex omnibus 
eadem. This is Forbiger's verse, which he calh paulo impeditiorem, 
and thus illustrates, ** Non qu6 duo (verba) ex omnibus null& (liter^) 
inter se eadem sint : i. e. non quasi litera non in duobus verbis di- 
versis occurrere possit." Lamoinus reads, aut nulla (verba sc.) 
inter se duo sint ex omnibus isdem (Uteris «c.). Wakefield for Udem 
substituted eidem, versui sc. And Lachmann gives, Aut nulU (versus 
sc,) inter se duo sint ex omnibus idem. Any one of these is better than 
Forbiger's monster. 

80 LUCEBTIUS. B. It 708—734. 

lariiies it is evident that none occur^ since we see that all 
things, being .produced fnun certain seeds, bj an unerring 
generative mUure, can, as they grow up, preserve their kind 
pure and unmixed. 

And it is plain that this must necessarily be the case ac- 
cording to strict method and laws. For, from the several 
sorts of food thai are eaten, the particles, suitable to each 
animal, pass internally into its limbs and other parts, and, 
being there combined, produce motions fitted to that animal. 
But, on the other hand, we see that nature throws back upon 
the earth those particles which are unsuitable to the animal; 
and many, existing in imperceptible substances, escape out of 
the body, being wrought upon by the impulses and agitations 
of other particles ; which effluent particles could neither be 
combined in any part, nor consent, and be animated, to par- 
ticipate in the vital movements. 

But lest you should think that animals only are bound by 
these laws, a certain order and regularity, let me observe, 
keeps all things distinct. For as, throughout the whole of 
nature, things dissimilar from one another are individually 
produced, so it is necessary that each should consist of a differ- 
ent form of elements. Not that only a few elements are endowed 
with like forms, but because all, throughout all bodies, are not 
similar to alL 

Since, moreover, seminal-particles differ, their intervals, 
passages, connexions, weights, impulses, collisions, motions, 
must necessarily differ ; variations which not only keep dis- 
tinct the bodies of animals, but give peculiarity to the land 
and the whole sea, and cause the heaven to differ in nature 
from the earth. 

And now attendywr^Aer,* and receive into your mind my pre- 
cepts which I, with pleasing toil, have collected together. Do 
not, by any chance, imagine that those things which you see be- 
fore your eyes of a white colour consist, because they are white, 
of white elemental-atoms ; or that those which are black, are 
produced from black seminal-particles ; nor suppose that any 
objects, which are tinged with any other colour whatsoever, 

* And now attend ^rtAer, ^.] Ver. 729. " He now proceeds to 
show that the primary-atoms are void of colour, and indeed c^ all 
qualities, except shape, size, and weight." iMrnJbimu, This is in 
conformity with the doctrine of Epicurus, as g^ven in the Epistle to 
Herodotus, in Diog. Laert book x. 

B. II. 736-768. LUCRETIUS. 81 

wear that colour because their material elements are tinctured 
with a hue similar to it. For there is no colour at all in the ele- 
mentary-atoms of matter, either similar to that of the bodies in 
which they exist, or dissimilar. Into the nature o^ which ele- 
mentary atoms, if you think that the mind cannot penetrate, so 
as to form an idea of them, because they are without colour, 
you wander far tiWSLyfrom the truth. Since, when those who 
have been bom blind, and who have never seen the light of 
the sun, yet distinguish substances by the touch, which to 
them have seemed unmarked by colours from their earliest 
youth, we may understand also that substances actually un- 
tinctured with colour, may be brought under the comprehen- 
sion of our intellect. Moreover whatever objects we ourselves 
touch in thick darkness, we do not perceive to be tinged with 
any colour at all. 

Since I prove it to be possible that atoms may be colourless, 
I will now show that it certainly is so. For every colour is, or 
may be, changed into all colours whatsoever; but this is a 
transmutation which primordial elements must by no means 
undergo ; since it is necessary that there should remain some- 
thing unchangeable, lest all things should be reduced utterly 
to nothing. For whatsoever being changed,* goes beyond its 
own limits, this change forthwith becomes the death or termin* 
ation of that which it was before. Be cautious, therefore, 
not to tinge the seeds of things with colours, lest all things 
for your gratification^ should be reduced to nothing. 

Besides, if no kind of colour has been assigned to primary- 
particles, and if they are endowed with various forms, by which 
they generate and vary all kinds of colours ; and since, more- 
over, it is of great consequence with what atoms, and in 
what configuration, ^eminal-particles are severally combined, 
and what impacts they mutually give and receive ; you may 
at once, with the greatest ease, render a reason why those 
objects which were a while ago of a black colour, may sud- 
denly become of a marble whiteness ; as when the sea, after 
violent winds have stirred up its waters, is changed in hue, 
and boils up into waves white as the whiteness of marble. 
For you may readily say of any object which we generally 
observe to be black, that, when its material-atoms have been 


For whatsoever being changed, ^.] Ver. 753. See i. 671. 
For your gratification.] Ver. 756. Tibi, 

82 LUCBBTIU8. b. ii. 779-797 

disturbec^ and the order of the particles changed, and some 
taken away and others added, it forthwith becomes possible 
that it ma J seem of a glowii^ whiteness.^ Bat if the waters 
of the sea consisted of caemlean atoms, thej could bj no means 
become white ; for, in whatever way jou may disorder and 
commingle those atoms which are csBrolean, they can never 
pass into the colour of marble. But if the atoms which make 
up the simple and pure colour of the sea, were tinged with va- 
rious and diverse colours ; as frequently we see, from different 
forms and dissimilar figures, is formed a perfect square, con- 
sisHng (^ only one figure ; it would follow, that, as in the 
square we see the other different figures exist, so in the water 
of the sea, or in any other simple and pure colour, we should 
see those wholly different and distinct eo\o\a^ from which 
the uniform colour of the sea proceeds. 

Further, the different figures which mahe up the square, by 
no means hinder or prevent the whole outline^ of the com- 
pound figure from being or appearing square ; but the various 
colours of any substances which make up any compound sub- 
stance, impede and prohibit that whole compound substance 
from possibly being of one uniform hue. 

Then, moreover, the reason which prompts and induces us 
sometimes to impute colours to primary-particles, namely, that 
coloured substances are compounded of them, passes for no- 
thing; because white substances, as the foam of the sea for 
instance, are not necessarily produced firom other white sub- 
stances; nor substances which are black, from oM^ black sub- 
stances; but ^m. substances of Ymouia colours; and because, 
moreover, white substances will more readily arise, and be 
produced, from primary-particles of no colour than from pri- 
mary-particles of a black colour, or from particles of any 
other colour whatsoever that is adverse and opposed to white^ 

Further, since there can be no colours without light, and 
the primary-particles of things do not come forth into the 
light,^ you may hence feel certain that they are vested with 

' Of a glowing whiteness.] Ver. 771* Candens — et album. 

' Whole outline.] Ver. 785. Omne extra. "In superficie et am- 
bitu." Gifanius. 

^ * And the primary-particles of things do not come forth into the 
light.] Ver. 796. Negtte in Iticem existunt primordia rerum. This is 
not true, for the primary-particles that are on the surface of things 
do come forth into the light. " He reasons thus," says Lambinus ; 

B II. 79a-817. LUCRETIUS. 83 

no colours at cUL For what sort of colour will there possibly 
exist in thick darkness, when colour is a thing which is 
changed in and hy mere light, because it appears different, as 
it is struck by direct or oblique light ? As the plumage of 
doves which is situate round the back of the head, and encir«> 
cles the neck, appears of a different colour as it is seen differ- 
ently in the sun. For in one position it is affected so as to be 
red with the hue ©/"the bright 'carbuncle ; at another time, in 
a certain aspect,^ it is so changed that it seems to mix the 
colour of green emeralds with blue. The tail of the peacock, 
also, when it is covered with a flood of light, changes its co- 
lours, cu it is presented in different ways, in like manner. 
And since all these colours are produced by a certain effect of 
the light, it must be considered that colour cannot be produced 
at aUf without that light. 

Since, too, the pupil of the eye^ receives upon itself one 
kind of impulse when it is said to perceive a white colour, 
and another again, when it perceives black and other colours; 
and since it is of no moment, as to the feeling, with what 
colour those things, which you touch, are distinguished, but 
rather of what shape they are formed, you may conclude that 
primary-particles have no need of colours, but have only to 
affect the touch differently through the different forms in which 
tJiey are combined. 

Besides, since there is no certain kind of colours peculiar^ to 

*^ Without light colours are not seen ; primary-atoms are not seen ; 
therefore primary-atoms are without colour : a syllogism which is 
unsound, though all its parts are true." Lambinus was too indul- 
gent ; he should have disputed the minor. The atoms of things are 
not seen individually, but they meet the tight on surfaces collectively. 

* In a certain aspect] Ver. 804. Qfiiodam tensu, " As the French 
say, speaking of vision, en un certain sens; or, as in ver. 808, qwodam 
lumime ictu, Faber. 

* Since, too, the pupil of the eye, S*c.] Ver^ 810. The sense of 
the paragraph is this : The eye is affected in one way when it per^ 
ceives a white colour, and in another way when it perceives a black ; 
but such affections are produced by touch or impact on the eye^ (by 
means, namely, of the images thrown off from the surface of bodies ) ; 
and to the sense of touch colour is not reauisite ; therefore primary? 
atoms, which act on the eye by touch, nave no need of Qolour to 
produce their effects, and may be considered to he without it 

' Besides, since there is no certain kind of colours peculiar, jr^.] 
Ver. 817. The force of the argument is this: Suppose that the 
primarv-atoms of things have colour, those who maintain this opin- 
ion will surely not say that certain colours of atoms are peculiar to 

G 2 

84 ' LUCRETIUS. B. II. 818--845. 

certain shapes, and since all shapes of seminal-atoms may exist 
with any colour whatsoever, why, if we suppose that seminaU 
atoms, which are of manifold shapes, have colour y are not those 
creatures which consist of those seminal-atoms, sprinkled over 
accordingly with all sorts of colours, each in its several kind, 
whatsoever it may he f For, under Ms supposition, it might 
be expected that crows, as they fly, would often shed forth 
a white colour from white feathers, and that swans, if spring- 
ing perchance from black atoms, would be bom black, or, if 
from atoms of any other colour, might he of any other hue 
whatsoever, uniform or varied. 

Moreover, the more any body is divided into small parts, 
the more you can see its colour by degrees die away and be- 
come extinct, as happens when gold is broken into small frag- 
ments. So purple and scarlet, (by far the brightest of colours,) 
when they have been divided thread by thread, are utterly 
deprived €f lustre. So that you may from this infer, that the 
small parts of bodies throw off all colour, before they are re- 
duced to their ultimate-atoms. 

Further, since you grant that all bodies do not emit sound 
or smell, it consequently happens that you do not attribute to 
all bodies sounds or smells. So, since we cannot see all bodies 
with our eyes, we may conceive that certain bodies exist, which 
we do not see, as much destitute of colour as others are free 
from smell, and void of sound ; and that an intelligent mind 
can form a notion of these colourless bodies, no less than of 
others which are destitute of other qualities and distinctions. 

But that you may not perchance imagine that primary atoms 
remain void of colour only, they are also, you may understand, 
altogether destitute of helit and cold ; ^ and are understood 
to be barren of sound, and dry of all moisture ; nor do they 

certain shapes of atoms ; for example, that all triangular atoms are 
black, all quadrangular atoms blue, ^c, but will allow that in.each 
shape there must be atoms of different colours ; for instance, that 
among triangular atoms some must be white, some black, some of 
intermediate colours. Let us suppose, then, that crows consist 
chiefly of triangular atoms; it would hence follow that crows might 
be^ bom not black, but white, or green, or blue, or variegated. But 
this never happens ; atoms are therefore without colour.'' Lanibinus. 
* Altogether destitute of heat and cold.] Ver. 844. Secreta teporia 
sunt ac frigoris omnino calidique vaporis, I have not thought it neces- 
sary to give more than one word for heat; and have made a similar 
abbreviation in ver. 858. 

B. II. 846-T^67. LUCRETIUS. 85 

send out any odour of their own from their substance. Thus 
when you proceed to compound a sweet ointment of amaracus,^ 
and myrrl^ and the flower of nard, which breathes nectar to 
the nostrils, it is, in the first place, proper to seek, as far as 
is conyenient, and a^ far as you may be able to find, the sub- 
stance of inodorous olive oil, which emits no scent to the 
nostrils, that it may, as little as possible, by the infection of 
any strong smell of its own, corrupt the odours mixed and 
digested in its body as a vehicle for them. 

Finally, therefore, it must be granted that the primary-atoms 
of things communicate no odour or sound of their own, to the 
things to be produced/rom them^ since they can emit from them- 
selves none of these qualities; nor, in like manner, do they emit 
any savour at all,, or cold or heat. Other qualities, moreover^ 
which are such that they are themselves^ and in the bodies with 
which they are connected^ perishable, as pliancy from soft- 
ness, brittleness from decay, hollowness from tenuity of sub- 
stance, must all, of necessity, be separated from primary-ele- 
ments, if we wish to lay an everlasting foundation for things, 
on which their entire security may rest, that the whole universe 
may not be resolved into nothing. 

And now let me observe that those creatures^ whatsoever 
they are ^at we perceive to have sense, you must necessarily 
ac^owledge to consist wholly of senseless atoms.^ Nor do 
manifest appearances,^ which are readily observed, refute this 

* Sweet ointment of amaracus, ^c.'] Ver. 847. SictU amarcunni 
blandum atacttsqite liquorem Et nardi fiorem, nectar qui naribua halat. 
Amaracua is generally understood to be sweet-marjoram* StacUt is 
liquid myrrh, Nardua is what we call spikenard, ** Nectar, the sweetest 
of odours ; metaphorically transferred from the taste to the smell." 
Lambinus, — But the simile of the inodorous oil is but an imperfect 
illustration of the position that ultimate particles are without smell; 
for the oil is but the vehicle of the perfumes ; ultimate particles ar^ 
themselves the substance of the perfumes. 

^ Other qualities, moreover, ^c.1 Ver. S59, He signifies that the 
primary atoms of things must be destitute of all (qualities that would 
render them perishable ; they must be hard, solid, and unyielding, 
as he shows, i. 501, seq., and elsewhere. 

* And now let me observe wholly of senseless atoms.] Ver. 865. 

He now proceeds to show that living creatures are formed from 
senseless atoms. ^ 

* Nor do manifest appearances refute this position,'] Ver. 867. 

Neqtte id manifesta rejvtant, '* A common argument of Epicurus, 
oh fidxtrai roic ^cuvoMvoig," Faber, 

86 * LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 868-894. 

position, or in the least oppose it, bat rather themselves lead 
lis by the hand, as it were, and compel us to believe that ani- 
mals, though possessed of sense^ are generated, as I say, from 
atoms without sense* 

For you may observe living worms proceed from foul dung, 
when the earth, moistened with immoderate showers, has 
contracted a kind of putrescence ; and you may see all other 
things besides change themselves, similarly, into other things. 
The rivers turn themselves into leaves of trees ; and the rich 
pastm*es into cattle; the cattle change their substance into 
that of our bodies ; and from our bodies the strength of wild 
beasts, and the frames of birds, are often augmented. Nature, 
thei*efore, changes all kinds of food into Hving bodies, and 
hence produces all senses of animals in a method not very far 
different from that by which she resolves dry wood into flames, 
«nd turns all combtistible bodies into fire. 

Do you now understand, therefore, that it is of great im- 
portance in what order the primordial elements of things are 
severally placed^ and with what other elements being mingled, 
they give and receive impulses ? 

Besides, what is it that acts upon your mind, what moves 
you, and induces you to express a different opinion, preventing 
you from believing that what is possessed of sense is produced 
from atoms without sense ? It is, evidently, this: that stones, 
and wood, and earth,* however mixed together, are neverthe- 
less unable to produce vital sense. 

On these subjects, then, it will be proper for you to remem- 
ber this principle,^ that I 'do not say that what has sense, or 
that senses themselves, are of course^ produced from all atofns in 
general, whatsoever generate things ; but that it is of great im- 
portance, in the first place, of what size those atoms are which 


* Stones, and wood, and earth, ^c.l Ver. 889. You say that be- 
cause a mixture of such lifeless substances as stones, wood, &c., 
cannot produce sensible beings, therefore insensible atoms cannot 
give rise to sensible beings. 

* It will be proper for you to remember this principle.] Ver. 891. 
lUttd in hia igvturfoedua meminisae decebit. I have translated fadus 
"principle," but the reading ought doubtless to be IHxid in his 
igitur rebus, which Lambinus suggested, and which Lachmann has 

» Of course.] Ver. 898. Extemplo, Forthwith, readily, without 

B. n. 895—911. LUCRETIUS. 87 

are to produce a, being of sense, and with what shape they 
are distinguished ; and, in the next place, what they are in 
their movements, arrangements, and positions ; of which par- 
• ticulars, we^fram our imperfect perceptions, see nothing take 
place in wopd and clods ; and yet these, when they are as it 
were rendered putrescent by rain, produce worms, and for 
this reason, because the atoms of matter, being driven from 
their former arrangements by some new impulse, are combined 
in such a manner as makes it indispensable for animals to be 

Besides, when philosophers determine that a being which has 
simse can be produced only from atoms endowed with sense, 
they forthwith, accustomed to adopt opinions from others, 
make those atoms soft ; for all sense is connected with viscera, 
nerves, veins, and whatever soft stibstances we see exist and 
grow in a mortal body. 

But let it be supposed, for a moment, that these atoms, of 
which animals consist, may, though sensible and soft, remain 
eternal. They must then, however, either have sense as parts 
of animals,^ or be thought similar to whole animals. But it 
cannot be that as parts they have sense of themselves, for every 
part and mender, if separated from the body, breaks off con- 
nexion with the other senses of the other members ;^ nor can 

' Must — either have sense cts parts of animals, ^c] Ver. 908. Sen- 
9um partis habere, " Talem sensum habehunt, qualem habent par- 
tes.*' XamWntt*.— Or be thought similar to whole animals.] Aut 
similes totis animalibus esse putari. What similes is to agree with, is 
not very clear; Wakefield, whose reading it is, says venas et neroos; 
but it ought to agree vfiih primordia, (comp. ver. 916,J or to refer to 
the primordia in some way. Lamhinus and Creecn read similia, 
Lachmann has g^ven, Aut simili totis animaMus (scilicet ser^su) esse 

' For every part and member ^ if separated from the body, breaks off 
connexion with the other senses of the other members.] Ver. 911. 
Namque alios sensus membrorum respuit omnis, I have translated this 
line 'according to the interpretation of Lamhinus : omnis " pars a 
toto separata, alianun omnium partium jsuarum sensus rejicit ac re- 
spuit." But the reading can hardly be sound. Gifanius proposed 
namque ali6m sensus membrorum res petit omnis, which Havercamp 
admitted into the text. Lachmann g^ves something different: 
"Quid poeta voluerit," says he, "dubium esse non potest; nep^at 
enim membra singula seorsum sentiri posse, quippe quae ad aliud 
referantur, hoc est, ad animam : neque hoc difficile est ex verbis 
leviter corruptis extundere : namque ali6 sensus membrorum respicit 
omnis," ' This is not very satisfactory. 

88 LUCEETIUS. b. n. 912-935. 

the hand, when dissevered from us, nor any part of the body 
whatsoeveTy retain alone the sense of the whole body. It re- 
mains, therefore, that they must resemble whole animals, so 
that they may be animated with vital sense throughout. But 
how, then, will it be possible for them to be called the elements 
of things, and avoid the paths to death, when they are of an 
animal nature, and, existing themselves in perishable animals^ 
are one and the same with them f 

Yet if we allow th&t primordial atoms, though imperishable, 
may nevertheless be endowed with sense, they will necessarily 
in that case produce nothing but a crowd and multitude of 
animals ; just as men, cattle, and wild beasts, would be un- 
able to produce by combination severally among themselves, 
any thing but men, cattle, and wild beasts. How then could 
things inanimcUe, as trees and metals, be produced? It is 
only on this supposition, accordingly,^ (viz, that they can ge- 
nerate nothing but sentient beings,) that we should be obliged, 
as far as we see, to allow primordicU^atoms to be sentient. 

But if, perhaps, you say that the primordial-atoms, being, 
as you think, sentient, lay aside, in combination, their own 
proper sense, and take another, what need was there, in that 
case, that that should be assigned to them, which is afterwards 
taken away? And besides, to recur to an illustration to 
which we had recourse before, inasmuch as we see eggs of 
animals changed into birds, and worms spring forth when a 
kind of putrescence, from immoderate rains, has affected the 
ground, we know that animals having senses may be produced 
from objects without senses. 

But if any one, perchance, shall say that sentient-beings 
may certainly^ arise from senseless atoms, but that this must be 
effected by some change which takes place in those atoms, as 
from some new birth, before the sentient being which they con- 
stitute is brought forth into existence, it will be sufficient to 
explain and prove to him, that no birth ever takes place, un- 
less from some combination previously formed, and that no 

^ It is only on this supposition, accordingly, 4r<?.] Ver. 923.^ Sic 
itidem^ qucL sentimtts, sentire necesse est. This verse appeared so inex- 

Slicable to Lambinus, that he struck it out; and Lachmann has 
one the same. The sense which I have adven to it, is taken from 

' Certainly.] Ver. 931. Duntaxat, 3ee Scheller's Lexicon. And 
comp. ii. 122. 

B. n. 936-962. LUCRETIUS. 89 

CHANGE is effected without a combination of primordial-atoms ; 
for no senses of any animal body can exist before the substance 
itself of the animal is formed ; and this is evident, inasmuch 
as senseless matter is kept dispersed throughout the air, rivers, 
earth, and things produced from the earth ; nor, though it may 
have united,^ has it so united as to engender in itself those con- 
cordant vital motions, by which the dl-observing senses ofanu 
mals being generated, direct and preserve every living creature. 

Besides, a blow inflicted, if heavier^ than nature can endure, 
strikes down any animal at once, and has the effect of con- 
founding all sense of the body and of the mind ; for the posi- 
tions and connexions of the atoms are dissolved, and the vital 
motions are utterly impeded ; until at last the matter of the 
body, suffering concussion in every member, unlooses from 
the body the vital ties of the soul, and drives it forth, scat- 
tered abroad, through every outlet. For what more can we 
suppose that an inflicted blow can do, than shake to pieces 
and dissolve the several elements that were previously united ? 

It also happens, that when a blow is inflicted with less vio- 
lence, the remains of vital motion often prevail; prevail, I 
say, over the effects of it, and calm the violent disorders occa- 
sioned by the stroke, and recall every thing again into its 
proper channel ; and thus dispel, as it were, the movement of 
death, when asserting-its-power in the body, and revive the 
senses when almost lost and overcome. For under what in- 
fluence, if not under this revival of the sentient motions, can 
bodies return to life, the mind being re-established,^ even from 
the very threshold of dissolution, rather than depart and pass 
away to the bourne to which they had almost accomplished 
their course ? 

* Nor, though it may have united, ^c,] Ver. 942. Nee congressd 

modo, " That is, si modo sU congressa ; si hoc etiam eveniat. " Wake- 

field, Lucretius means to say that there is abundance of matter for 

producing animals dispersed throughout the earth, ^c., but which 

nas not yet combined to produce vital motions. 

* Besides, a blow inflicted^ if heavier, 4f^.] Ver. 944. The argu- 
ment is this: Atoms are senseless, and animal sense depends solely 
on their arrangement; for, if that arrangement be disturbed by a 
blow, the animal may at once be rendered senseless ; and, if it re- 
cover from the shock, it may suffer much pain. This argument 
extends to ver. 972. 

* The mind being re-established.] Ver. 961. ConJectA mente, "The 
mind collecting itself into the most vital parts." Wakefield, 


Furthermore, since pain happens when the principles of 
matter in any living hody^ disturbed \sij wskj force throughout 
the viscera or the limbs, are agitnled in their situations with- 
in, and driven from their proper places; and since an agree- 
able pleasure sacoeads when they return into their places ; it 
is but light to kiSsr, that primordial-atoms can be affected 
i^h no pain, and enjoy no pleasure, of themselves ; for they, 
heing primary bodies^ do not consist of those combination^ of 
primary-bodies^ the motions of which suffer pain^ or receive 
enjoyment of gentle pleasure, from alteration. Primordial 
atoms, therefore, must not be considered as endowed with 
any sense whatever. 

Besides, if, in order that animals may severally have sense^ 
sense is also to be attributed to their primary-elements, then, 
forsooth, ^e elements of which the human race is peculiariy 
constituted, both laugh, shaking their sides ^ with tremulous 
cachinnation, and sprinkle their faces and cheeks with distil- 
ling tears ; they, moreover, can tell much of the mixture of 
bodies, and inquire, besides, what are their own elements. 
For, as they resemble entire men, compounded of elements, 
they themselves must also be compounded of other elements ; 
and these others must be composed of others again, so that, 
reckoning thus, you would never make a stop, but go on to in^ 
finity. For I shall pursue the argument, and demand that 
whatever you shall admit to speak, and laugh, and under^- 
stand, must consist of other elements exercising the same 
powers. But if we plainly see such reasoning to be absurd 
and insane ; and if a bebig can laugh that is compounded 
of elements which do not laugh, and can understand, and 
render a reason in intelligible words, though he be not com" 
pounded of intelligent and eloquent seminal-principles, why 
may not all those creatures which we observe to be sentient 
around us, be compounded of seminal-atoms wholly destitute 
of sense? 

Finally, we are all sprung from celestial seed ; the father 
of all is the same jether, from which, when the bountiful 
earth has received the liquid drops of moisture, she, being 
impregnated, produces the rich crops and the joyous groves, 
and the race of men ; produces all the tribes of beasts ; since, 

* Laugh, shaking their aides , 4rc.] Ver. 976. See i. 918. 

B. II. 99&~1022. LUCRETIUS. 91 

she supplies them food^ by means of which they all- support 
their bodies^ and lead a pleasant life, and propagate offspring ; 
on which account she has justly obtained the name of Mother. 
That, also, which first arose from the earth, returns back into 
the earth ; and that which was sent down from the regions of 
the sky, the regions of the sky again receive when carried back 
to them ; nor does death so put an end to things as to destroy 
the atoms of matter, but only disunites their combinations, 
and produces new unions of particles, and is the cause that 
all things so change their forms, and vary their coloua^ sad 
receive perception, and in a moment of time yieid it np «@ain. 
80 that you may imderstaiid it to be of the greatest import- 
jmee witiii what elements, and in what position and connexion^ 
the same primordial-atoms of things are combined, and what 
impulses they mutually give and receive ; (nor suppose that 
the primary particles of things cannot remain eternal, because 
we see them fluctuate upon the surface of things, and some- 
times apparently bom and suddenly perish ;) as even in these 
very verses of mine it is of great consequence with what 
letters, and in what order, other letters are severally placed ; 
for the same letters^ variously selected and combined, signify 
heaven, sea, earth, rivers, sun ; the same signify corn, groves, 
animals ; if the words are not all, yet by far the greater part 
are, aHke,^ at least so far as to have some letter or letters in 
common; but the subjects which they express are distinguished 
by the different arrangements of the letters to form the words. 
So likewise even in things themselves, when the intervals, 
passages, connexions, weights, impulses, collisions, move- 
ments, order, position, arid configurations of the atoms of 
matter are interchanged, the things which are formed from 
them must also be changed. 

> If the iDorda are not all, yet by far the greater part are, alike, 

f^] Ver. 1017. Si non omnia aint^ at mttlto maxima para est Conaimilia. 
have translated this according to Wakefield's exposition : " liters 
esdem, plures paucioresve, in verbis long^ pluribus inveniuntur." 
But I am not quite sure that this sense can fairly be extracted from 
it. Creech's interpretation is, *' Si non omnes sunt esdem liters, 
at miUtu maxima pars eadem est," which can scarcely be thought 
intended to throw light on the subject. Lachmann seems to refer 
omnia to verba, but gives no further illustration. Other commenta- 
tors and translators afibrd no help whatsoever. 

92 LUCRETIUS. B. 11. 102a-1050. 

Give your attention now, closely,^ to the conclimons of juat 
reasoning, from what we have previous^ stated. • For a new 
doctrine presses earnestly to approach your ear, and a new 
scene of things to display itself. But neither is any thing so 
easy, or credible, as that it may not seem rather difficult of be- 
lief at first ; nor, likewise,' is there any thing so great, or any 
thing so admirable at jirst^ at which all men alike do not by 
degrees less and less wonder. 

In the first place, consider the bright and pure colour of 
the sky, and that which the stars, wandering in all directions, 
contain in themselves, and the resplendency, from brilliancy 
of light, of the moon and the sun ; all which objects^ if they 
were now first apparent to mortal eyes ; if they were, I say, 
now first presented to them unexpectedly and suddenly, what 
could be mentioned, which would he more wonderful than 
these phenomena, or which the nations of the toor/cf- could 
less presume, beforehand, to believe would exist ? Nothing, 
as I conceive ; so wonderful to men would this scene of things 
have been, for the sake of which no man, you may observe, 
now deigns to look up to the bright regions of the sky, every 
one being listless from satiety of viewing it. Wherefore for- 
bear, through being alarmed at mere novelty, to reject any 
argument or opinion from your mind, but rather weigh it 
with severe judgment, and, if it seem to you to be just, yield 
your assent to it ; or, if it be false, gird up your loins to op- 
pose it. For, since the sum of space, abroad beyond these 
walls of our world, is, £» / have proved, infinite, my mind 
proceeds to make inquiry what there exists farther onwards, 
in those parts into which the mind perpetually longs to look, 
and into which the free effi^rt of thought itself eamestly- 
desires to penetrate. 

The first point which I advance is, that in every direction 
around us, and on all sides, above and below, there is no limit 
through the whole of space, as / myself have demonstrated, 
and as truth itself spontaneously proclaims, and the nature of 

* Give your attention now, closely, ^c] Ver* 1023. Nunc animttm 
nobis adhioe, &c. Being now about to assert that there are many 
worlds, and that they are born and perish ; a doctrine which many 
might be slow to believe ; he does not think fit to advance it without 
gravely demanding the attention of the reader. 

B. II. 1061—1080. LUCRETIUS. 93 

the profound itself makes clear as light. But hj no means 
can it he thought prohahle, when infinite space Hes open in 
every quarter, and wlien seminal-atoms, of incomputahle 
numher and unfathomable sum, driven about bj everlasting 
motion, fij thnmgh the void in infinite ways, that this one 
globe of the earth, and this one heaven, have been alone pro- 
duced; and that those innumerable particles of matter do 
nothing beyond our sphere ; especially when this world was 
made by merely natural-causes, and the atoms of things jost- 
ling about' of their own accord in infinite modes, often brought 
together confusedly, ineffectually, and to no purpose, at length 
successfully coalesced ; — at least such of them as, thrown to- 
gether suddenly, became in succession^ the beginnings of great 
things, of the earth, the sea, the heaven, and the race of ani- 
mals. For which reason, it is irresistibly incumbent on you 
to admit, that there are other combinations of matter in other 
places, such as is this world, which the ether holds in its vast 

Further, when abundance of matter is ready, and space' is 
at hand, and when no object or cause hinders or delays, things 
must necessarily be generated^ and brought into being. 
And now, if there is such a vast multitude of seminal-atoms 
as the whole age of all living creatures would not suffice to 
number, and if there remains the same force and nature, that 
can throw together the atoms of things into every part in the 
same manner as they have been thrown together into this, 
you must necessarily suppose that there lare other orbs of earth 
in other regions of space,. 9,nd various races of men and gener- 
ations of beasts. 

To this is to be added, that in the whole of our world there 
is no one thing which is produced single, and grows up alone 
and by itself, but that every thing is of some class, and that 
there are many individuals in the same kind. Thus, among 
'animals especicdly, you will, by your own observation,* see thb 

* Jostling about.] Ver. 1059. Forth offensando, 

* Became in succession.] Ver. 1062. Fierent semper, FronH time 
to time. 

* Generated.] Ver. 1069. Geri, Properly, carWw? on. Lambinus 
read genu 

* By your own observation.] Ver. 1080. Indice tnente, " By the 
observation of your mind ;— if you attend to the suggestions and ad- 
monitions of reason." Wakefield, 

94 LUCRETIUS. b. ii. 1081—1110. 

to be the case as to the brood of wild beasts that range over 
the mountains ; you witt find the same as to the race of men, 
male and female ;^ the same, moreover, as to the mute swarms 
of fishes, and all the kinds of birds. Wherefore it is to be 
admitted, that, in like manner, the heaven, and the earth, and 
the sun, the moon, the sea, and other things which exist, are 
not single, but rather of infinite number ; since ikese follow 
the same general law^ as other things that arise and decay ; 
the limit of existence, deeply and unalterahly fixed, awaits 
these parts of nature as well a^ others, and thej consist as 
much of a natural body, generated but. to die, as the whole 
race of animals which abound, in their several kinds, in this 
state of things. 

Which points if, being well understood, you keep in mind, 
and reason from them, the system of nature immediately ap- 
pears, (zs a free agent, released from tyrant masters, to do 
every thing itself of itself spontaneously, without the help of 
the gods. For (0 ye sacred bosoms of the deities, that pass in ^ 
tranquil peace a calm and most serene existence ! ) who is able 
to rule the whole of this immense universe? Who can hold in 
his hand, with power to guide them, the strong reins of this 
vast combination of things f What god can, at the same time, 
turn round all the heavens, and warm all the earth with ethereal 
fires ? Or what god can be, at the same moment, present in all 
places, to produce darkness with clouds, and shake the calm 
regions of heaven with thunder, and then to hurl bolts, and 
overturn, us often happens, his own temples ; or afterwards, 
retiring to the desert and uninhabited parts of the earth, to 
rage there, exercising that weapon with which he often misses 
the guilty, and kills the innocent and undeserving ? 

And after the time when the world was produced, and the 
natal day of the sea, and the rise of the earth and the sun, 
atoms were added from without ; seeds, which the vast whole, 
by agitation, contributed, were conjoined ; whence the sea and 
the earth had the means of increase, and whence the mansion 
of the sky amplified its vastness, and raised its lofty vaults far 
above the earth, and the air rose higher and higher. For to 

^ Race of men, male and female.] Ver. 1082. Hominum geminam 
prolem. ** Utrumque sexum." Creech. A\, genitam prolem. 

' Since these follow the same general law, 4r^.] Ver. 1087. In intro- 
ducing these words, I follow Lambinus's elucidation. 

B. II. 1111—1138. LUCRETIUS. 95 


every body in nature^ from all regions of space, are con- 
tributed, by the agitation of particles^ its own jorqper atoms, and 
they betake themselves severally to their own kinds of mat- 
ter; the particles of moisture pa^s to water ; the earth is in- 
creased with atoms of earth ; and the fiery-principles produce 
fire, and the aerial air ; until, a^ stich operations proceeded^ 
nature, the perfectre^ and parent of the world, brought all 
things to the utmost limit of growth ; as happens when that 
which is received into the vital passages, is no more in quan' 
tity than that which fiows away and passes off. In these cir-' 
cumstances, the age and growth of All beings ^ must be at a 
stand ; here nature, by her own influence, restrains further 

For whatsoever creatures you see enlarge themselves to a 
full and lively bulk, and climb, by degrees, the steps to a 
mature age, receive into themselves more atoms than they 
emit ; whilst the nourishment is readily distributed through 
the veins, and whilst their bodies are not so widely dilated ^ as 
to expel many, that is, a disproportionate number of particles, 
and to cause the waste to be greater than the food on which 
their life sustains itself. For certainly we must admit that 
many atoms flow off and pass away from bodies ; but, till they 
have reached the highest point of growth, more ought to 
accrue to them. From that point, age reduces by degrees 
their mature force and strength, and melts away aTid sinks 
doum to its decline. Since the larger any creature is, at the 
time when its increase is stopped, and the greater is its extent 
of surface, the more atoms it disperses,^ and emits from itself, 
in all directions around ; nor is the whole of its food readily 
distributed through its veins ; nor is there sufficient nourish- 
ment generated fromthe food, in proportion to the effluvia which 
the body discharges,^ whence as much support as is necessary 

* In these circumstances^ the age and growth of all beings, ^c,] 
Ver. 1120. Omnibus his atcu debet consistere rebus. I do not consider 
that omnibus agrees with rebusj but that it is in the dative case, and 
his rebus in the ablative. In four MSS. Lambinus found Omnibus 
hie, S^c., which will give the same sense, though omnibus be then re- 
garded as agreeing with rebus. 

2 DilatedJ Ver. 1126. Dispersa. " Dilatata." Creech. 

' The greater is its extent of surface, the more atoms it dis- 
perses.] Ver. 1134. Quo latior est, Plura modo dispergit. " Quo 

modo latior est, eo modo plura dispergit." Wakefield. 

* In proportion to the effluvia which the body discharges.] Ver. 

96 LUCEETITJS. B. II. 113^-1161. 

can arise and be supplied to Uy^ and whence nature can recruit 
what is requisite. BodieSy therefore, naturally decay, as they 
are wasted by their substance passing ofi^ and as all things 
yield to external attacks ; for" food at last fails to support ad- 
vanced age ; and hostile atoms, striking externally, cease not 
to exhaust every creature, and subdue it with assaults. 

So likewl&e the walls of the great world, being assailed 
around, shall suffer decay, and faU into mouldering ruins. 
For, tf things are hept in vigour ^ it is nourishment ^at must 
recruit them all by renewal ; and t^ is nourishment that must 
support, nourishment that must sustain alL But itisisi vain 
to expect that this frame of the world wiU last for ever; for 
neither do its veins, so to speahy submit to receive what is suf- 
ficient for its maintenance, nor does nature minister as much 
aliment as is needed. 

And thus, even now, the age of the world is debilitated, and 
the earth, which produced all races of creatures, and gave 
forth, at a birth, vast forms of wild animals, now, being ex- 
hausted, scarcely rears a small and degenerate offspring. 2^e 
earth, I say, which produced aU creatures; for it was not, as 
I conceive, a golden chain from above ^ that let down the tribes 
of mortals from heaven into the fields ; i^r did the sea, or the 
waves that beat the rocks, produce them ; but the same earth, 
which now nourishes them from her own substance, generated 
them at first. 

Moreover the earth herself, of her own apcord, first pro- 
duced for mortals rich crops and joyous vineyards ; she her- 
self supplied sweet herbs over the abundant pastures, which 
now scarcely reach-a-full-growth,* though assisted and aug- 

1137. Pro qtmm largot extestuat astus. Proquam is rare. It occurs 
again iii. 200. 

* "Whence as much support as is necessary, ^c] Ver. 1138. Unde 
queant tantum stiboriri ac stqjpeditare. " Quean t, «?. corpora," says 
Wakefield, Others read queat, which is more satisfactory. UndCy 
whence, i. e. from the food. 

* Golden chain from ahove.J Ver. 1155. "All creatures, I say, 
sprung from the earth ; for livmg things were not, as the assertors 
of a providence affirm, let down from Heaven by that golden chain 
which none but Homer ever saw (II. ix. 18) ; nor were they generated 
from the sea and its waves ; but the earth, which now nourishes all 
things, originally produced all thingfs." Fdber, 

* Scarcely reach-a-full-growth.] Ver. 1161. Vix grandescunt. This 
complaint of the decay and degeneracy of things has heen common 

B. II. 1162-1176. LUCRETIUS. ^ 97 

merited bj our toil. We both wear out our oxen and exhaust 
the strength of our husbandmen, being scarcely supplied toM 
fruits from our slowly-yielding fields. To such a degree do 
the productions of the earth decline, and increase onlt/ with 
human labour. And ijx these days the sturdy ploughman, 
shaking his head, sighs that his great toil has too often fallen 
out in vain ; and, when he compares the present times to the . 
times past, frequently praises the good-fortune of his fore- 
father. The planter of the degenerate vine, also, sad and 
fatigued, accuses the progress of time, and wearies heaven with 
prayers for better seasons; and often remarks how the an- 
cient race cfmen, full of piety, spent their lives happily* within 
narrow limits, when the portion of land, cultivated formerly 
by each individual, was much less than at present; nor does 
his untateght mind understand that all things, exhausted by a 
long course of time, gradually waste away and pass to their 

to poets from Homer downwards. Johnson ridicules it in his Life 
of Milton. 

* Spent their lives happily.] Ver. 1172. PerfaciXt—tolerarit — avom, 
" Beati mverent; as in Terence, Qudinvos facile vivitis ! and in Homer« 
II. vii. 138, pkia l^iaovreg is applied to the gods/' FaJ)er. 



Having, in the first two books, treated of the nature and qualities of atoms, 
Lucretius proceeds, in the four following books, to speak of what is formed 
from those atoms. He occupies the third book with a description of the na- 
ture of the mind and the soul, commencing (yer. 1 — 13) with a eulo^ on 
Epicurus, who taught that the world was formed, not by any divine power, 
but from a fortuitous concourse of atoms, and who succeeded, beyond any 
other philosopher, in relieving the minds of men from the fear of the gods, 
of death, and of torments after death, yer. 14 — 10. Many who pretend to be 
free from this fear, are still disquieted with it ; and it is often the source of 
crimes, yer. 41 — 93. He then shows that the mind and soul are a part of 
man, not less than the hand or foot, and not a mere harmony of the parts 
of ^e body, as some philosophers taught, yer. 94 — 106. Bieasons on the 
separate affections of the body and mind, on sleep, on corporeal mutila- 
tions, and on the cessation of breathing, yer. 107 — 137. Uses the terms 
mind and soul indiscriminately, yet shows that the mind (animua) is the 
chief part, residing in the middle of the breast, the soul (anima) being 
diffused throughout the body, and under the dirjection of the mind, yer. 
138 — 161. That this mind, and soul, are corpopr al, acting on the body by 
material impact, and consisting of minute aioms^ imperceptible to the 
senses, yer. 161 — 231. That the substance of the «8oul and mind is not 
simple, but composed of four subtle consistences, heat, air, aura^ and a 
fourth, to which no name is given, yer. 232—323. That the soul and body 
cannot be separated without destruction to both ; and that the sentient 
power is not confined to the soul, yer. 324 — 370. He then refutes the 
opinion of Democritus, who thought that the soul and body had corre- 
spondent parts, yer. 371 — 396. Shows that the preservation of life depend^ 
more on me mind than on the soul, yer. 397 — 417. Afterwards he demoji- 
strates, by twenty strict arguments, and six additional observations, that 
the soul perishes with the oody, ridiculing, by tiie way, the Pythagorean 
transmigration, yer. 418—841. Hence he observes, tlutt, as death is the 
end of man, nothing is to be feared after it ; that it cannot be in itself an 
evil, because the dead can renet nothing that they have left ; and that 
prolongation of life is not to be desired, as it would furnish nothing but • 
what has been already enjoyed, yer. 842---988. Says that all the Tarta- 
rean sufferings which are dreaded after death, are witnessed and endured 
in life, yer. 989 — 1036. Consoles mankind, by observing l^t the best men 
have died as well as the worst, and exhorto them to contemplate death 
with reason and calmness, yer. 1037 — 1088. Concludes with a few more 
moral reflections to the same purpose, yer. 1089—1107. 

H 2 

100 LUCRETIUS. b. hi. 1—24. 

thou, who, from so great darkness, wast first able to 
raise so effulgent a light, shedding-a-lustre-on the blessings of 
life, thee, O glory of the Greek nation, I follow, and now place 
the steps of my feet formed upon thy impressed traces,^ yet not 
because I am so eager to rival, as because, from the love which 
I feel for fhee^ I desire to imitate thee. For why should the 
swallow contend with swans ? Or what, that is all similar, 
can kids, with trembling limbs, and the strong vigour of the 
horse, perform in the race? Thou, O father, art the dis- 
coverer of truths ;^ thou suppliest to us paternal precepts, and 
from thy writings, illustrious teacher, as bees gather ^ from 
aU blossoms in the flowery glades, so we feed upon thy golden 
words ; golden, I say, and most worthy of perpetual existence. 

For as soon as thy system of philosophy began to proclaim 
aloud the natuee op things, as it arose in ^y divine intel- 
lect,* the terrors of the mind disperse ; the walls of the world 
open ; I see things conducted throughout the mighty void of 
space; the ca/wi divinity of the gods ^ appears, and their tran- 
quil abodes, which neither winds disturb, nor clouds sprinkle 
with showers, nor snow falling white, congealed with sharp 
frost, inconveniences ; ^ but the pure air is always cloudless, 
and smiles with widely effulgent light.^ To them, moreover, 
nature supplies all things, nor does any cause, at any time, 
diminish the tranquillity of their minds. But the regions of 

* Steps of my feet formed upon thy impressed traces.] Ver. 4. 
Ficta pedum pono pressis mstigia signis, " Ponoque vestigia pedum 
(i. e. sola pedum) ficta (i* e. se fingentla,) effig^ata, demrmata, in 
tuis si^nis, vel signis tuorum pedum." Wakefield, 

^ Discoverer of truths.] Ver. 9. Rerum inventor, " Philosophise 
auctor, founder of true philosophy.*' Creech, 

^ As bees gather.] Ver. 11. Limant, This is adopted by Wake- 
field in the sense of decerpunt, delibant, " cull, gather." Others, with 
Lachmann, read libant. 

* Thy divine intellect.] Ver. 15. Divind mente coortam. This is the 
reading of Wakefield, referring to the mind of Epicurus ; Lambinus 
and his followers read ?iaud divina mente, that is, not from the mind 
of the gods. 

* Calm divinity of the gods.] See i. 646 — 651. 

* Inconveniences.] Ver. 21. Violat. I hesitated what word to 
choose for this, and took one of the mildest that I could find. Creech 
has invades, but this is no proper sense of the word. 

' EiFulgent light.] Ver. 22. Diffusa lumine. See i. 9. 

B. III. 25-53. LUCRETIUS. 101 

Acheron, on the other hand, are no where apparent ; nor does 
the dark earth hinder hut that all things, whatever are done 
beneathour fe^ throughout the void, may be seen and con- 
templated. Under the influence of these wonders disclosed 
there, 'a certain divine pleasure and dread penetrates me ; 
amazed that nature, thus manifestly displayed by thy power, 
has been in all parts revealed to us. 

And since I have shown * of what kind the primordial at^ms 
of all things are, and how, differing in their various forms,' 
and actuated by motion from all eternity, they fly through the 
void of space of their own accord ;^ and since I have also de- 
numstraied by what means all individual things may be pro- 
duced from them ; the nature of the mind and of the soul now 
seems, next to these subjects, proper to be illustrated in my 
verses ; and there must be driven utterly from our minds ^ that 
fear of Acheron, which disturbs human life from its very' 
foundation, suffusing all things with the blackness of death, 
nor allows any pleasure to be pure and uncontaminated. 

For as to what men often say, that diseases, and a life of 
infamy, are more to be feared than Tartarus, the successor of ' 
death ; and that they know the consistence of the soul to be 
of the nature of blood, or even of breath, (if their inclination 
happen to lead them to such an opinion,) and have no need 
at all of our reasoning and instruction; you may perceive, 
for the reasons that follow,^ that all these observations are 
thrown out more for the sake of praise and vain-glory, than 
because the belief itself is settled in their minds ; for the very 
same boasters, exiled from their country, and driven far from 
the sight of men, disgraced with foul guilt, and afflicted with 
all calamities, yet still continue to live ; and whithersoiev^r, 
notwithstanding, the unhappy men have come, they offer sa- 
crifices to the dead, as if their souls were still in existence, and 
immolate black cattle, and send oblations to the Dii Manes, 

* And since I have shown, ^c] Ver. 31. " Having, in the first and 
second hooks, stated many particulars concerning atoms, and their 
figures and motions, he now proposes an exact discussion concern- 
ing the soul, with a view to deliver men from the fear of death and 
of punishment after death." Creech,^ 

• Of their own accord.] Ver. 33.. i. e. By their own weight. 

• Driven utterly from our minds.] Ver. 37. PrcBceps agundus. 
" Elliptically for in prtecepa, as if in prtscipitium." Wakefield, 

♦ For the reasons that follow.] Ver. 46. Hinc. 

102 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 54-82. 

and, in their calamitous circumstances, apply their minds 
much more zealously to religion than before. For which rea- 
son, it is more satisfactory to contemplate a person, in order 
to judge of his character ^ in doubtful dangers, and to learn 
what he is in adverse circumstances ; since words of truth 
are then at last elicited from the bottom of the heart, and the 
mask is taken away, while the reality of the man remains. 

Furthermore, avarice, and the blind desire of honours, 
which drive men to transgress the bounds of right, and some- 
times, a^ the accomplices and ministers of crimes, to strive 
night and day, with excessive labour, to rise to the height of 
power; these fossionSf I say^ which are the wounds and 
plagties of life, are nourished for the most part by the dread 
of death. For, in general, infamous contempt, and sharp po- 
verty, seem removed from a pleasing and secure *tofe of life, 
and seem to dwell, as it were, before the very gates of de- 
struction. From which cause, while men, not submitting to 
die to avoid those evils, but restrained by a false terror of death 
and its consequences, wish that they may escape far, and re- 
move themselves to a distance, yrow disgrace and want, they 
increase their property with civil bloodshed, and greedily double 
their riches, heaping slaughter on slaughter ; they cruelly re- 
joice at the sad end of a brother, and hate and dread the 
tables ^ of their relations. 

From the same terror,'^ in like manner, envy often wastes 
men away; they grieve that he who walks before them in 
shining honour, should be powerful, should be looked upon 
with respect ; they complain that they themselves are tossed 
about in obscurity and dishonour.* Some pine to death for 
the sake of statues and a name, and often to such a degree 
from the fear of death, does the hatred of life, and of seeing 
the light, affect men, that with a despairing mind, they com- 
mit self-murder ;* forgetting that this fear is the source of all 

* Dread the tables, S^c,'] Ver. 73. Through fear of poison. 

^ From the same terror.] Ver. 74.^ If men were not afraid of 
suicide, they might escape from the sight of all that disquiets them. 

' Tossed about in obscurity and dishonour.] Ver. 77. In tenebris 
volvi ctBnogue, In darkness and in dirt. 

* To such a degree, commit -flelf-murder.] Ver. 79, seq, " This 

strange and inconsistent effect of fear is well commented upon in 
the following verses of Butler ; who tells us that it will often 

Do things not contrary alone 
To th' force of nature, but its own ; 

B. m, 8a-98. LUCRETIUS. 1 03 

cares ; ^ that this violates modesty, that this bursts the bonds 
of friendship; Ms, in fine, prompts mortals to overthrow 
piety and virtue. For men have often betrayed their country, 
and their dear parents, while seeking to avoid the regions of 
Acheron. Since as children tremble,^ and fear every thing in 
thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear sometimes things which 
are not more to be feared than those which children dread, 
and imagine about to happen, in the dark. This terror of 
the mind, therefore, it is not the rays of the sun, or the 
bright arrows of day, that must dispel, but the contemplation 
of nature, and the exercise o/* reason. 

First, then^ I say, that the mind, * which we often call the 
intellect, in which is placed the conduct and government of 
life, is not less an integral part of man himself , than the hand, 
and foot, and eyes, are portions of the whole animal. 

Although, indeed, a great number of philosophers have 

For men as resolute appear 
With too much as too little fear ; • 
And when they're out of hopes of flying, 
WiU run awavfrom death by dying,** Good, 

Men, rather than live perpetually in fear of the worst, dare the 

* Forgetting that this fear is the source, a^c.] Ver. 82. ObliH fon- 
tem curarum hunc ease Hmorem, Forgetful that if they were but to 
free themselves from this unreasonable dread of death, and of suffer- 
ings after death, they need not, under any circumstances, be ha- 
rassed with cares, or driven to cnme. to preserve a miserable 
existence, but might either terminate their fives at once, without 
apprehension of consequences, or might endure their afflictions 
with resolute submission, satisfied that there would be nothing worse 
to come beyond what they would undergo in this world, and that they 
might securely withdraw from their troubles whenever they might 
think fit. 

' Since, as children tremble, 4r<^.] Ver. 88. Thepe lines are taken 
from ii. 55, seq. , and Lucretius was so well pleased with them that they 
are repeated again, vi. 35. ''Men fear death," says Bacon, (Essay 
ii.) ''as children fear to go into the dark ; and as that natural fear 
in children is increased with tales, so is the other." 

* First, then^ I say that the mind, 4f<?.] Ver. 94. Primum animum 
dicOf mentem quern aape tfocamtu. In quo contilium vita regimenqtte loca^ 
turn estf Esse hominta partem. Being now about to speak of the mind 
and soul, his first assertion is, that the mind (animus), which we 
often call the intellect (mens), and which is the director of life, is 
not less apart of us than the hand or foot. 

104 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 99—119. 

thought that the sense of the mind is not placed in any cer- 
tain part, but is a kind of yital habit or resuUing power of 
the body, (called by the Greeks a harmony,)^ which causes 
us to live endowed with a mental sense, though the mind is 
situate in no particular port of us. As, frequently, when 
good health is said to be a sensation of the body, and yet this 
health is itse^ no portion of the person that enjoys health ; so 
those philosophers place the sense of the mind in no particular 
part of the person. In which hypothesis they seem to wander 
far astray. For frequently the body, which is openly seen, 
is diseased and dejected, while we nevertheless feel pleasure^ 
in the other part, which is hid within us; and on the other 
hand again, it often happens that the reverse is the case, when 
he who is wretched in mind is well in his whole body; just 
in the same way as if, when the foot of a sick man is pained, 
his head, in the mean time, happen to be in no pain at all. 
Besides, when the limbs are resigned to gentle sleep, and the 
body, heavy ttnth slumber, lies stretched without sense, there 
is yet something else within us, which, at that very time, is 
agitated in diverse ways, and admits into itself all the affec- 
tions of joy, and cdl the empty solicitudes of the heart. 

And now, also, that you may he further convinced that the 
soul is acttmlly one among our members,^ and is not wont to 
hold or occupy the body as a harmony,^ it happens in the first 

^ Harmony.] Ver. 101. Many however have thought otherwise, 
and some have considered the mind to be a mere efiect of the ar- 
rangement and combination of the particles of the body ; among 
whom was Aristoxenus, who, says Cicero, (Tusc. i. 10, 18,) being 
both a philosopher and^ musician, imagined that the mind was 
merely a harmony resulting from tne nature and shape of the body, 
as tunes spring from the consenting motions of musical instruments. 
The same opinion is noticed and confuted by Aristotle de Anima, i. 
4. Allusion is also made to it in Plato's Phaedo. 

* Feel pleasure.] Ver. 108. LcBtamur, A little below (yer. 110) 
I have rendered Qtfom miser ex animo lataiur corpore toto, " is well in 
his whole body: 'Vfor we can hardly say that he who is toretched in 
mind rejoices orjeels pleasure in his whole body, 

* One among our members.] Ver. 118. In Tnembris. That is, says 
Lambinus, in numero membrorum, in the number of our members. 

* To hold — ^the body as a harmony.] Ver. 119. Neque harmoniam 
corpus retinere solere. The reader of the Latin may be in doubt 
whether the construction is Jiarmoniam retinere corpus^ or corpus re- 
tinere harmoniam, Wakefield and the Delphin editor put it in the 

B. III. 120--137. LUCRETIUS. 105 

place, you may observe, that, even when much of the body is 
taken awaj, the life nevertheless often remains in the mem- 
bers ih(xt are left; ^ and, again, the same life, when a few atoms 
of the heat of the body have dispersed, and air has been sent 
forth through the mouth, immediately quits the veins, and 
relinquishes possession of the bones : so that you may ccmclude 
from hence, that all particles of the body have not equal parts 
tmd powers, but that those which are the constituent-atoms 
of air and quickening heat,^ exercise more influence than 
others that life may dwell and be retained in the members. 
The vital heat, therefore, and air, which desert our limbs 
when dying, are existent in the body itself, and form a part 

For which reason, since the nature of the mind and the 
soul is thus found to exist as a part of man, give back to these 
philosophers their name of harmony, whether brought down 
by musicians from lofty Helicon, or whether they themselves 
took it from any other quarter,^ and transferred it to that 
object, which then wanted a distinctive appellation. What- 
soever is the case, let them have it to themselves ; listen thou 
to the rest of my arguments. 

I now affirm that the mind and soul^ are held united with 

way in which I have gtven it ; the other commentators say nothing 
on the point. 

* The life — often remains in the members that are left,'] Ver. 121. 
By life (vita) he intends the soul (anima), which, he says, cannot be 
a harmony resulting from the whole body, because it remains en- 
tire, and undiminished in vigour, when the body is no longer whole. 
It will be seen below, (ver. 232, eeq,,) that he makes tne anima, 
(or rather the anima and animua conjoined,) which he does not 
make distinct from the vital power, to consist of heat^ a certain aura, 
air, and a fowrih substance, to which he g^ves no name, but which is 
the ori^ of sense and motion in the human frame. 

* Qmckening heat.] Ver. 127. CcUidique vaporis. Warm or warm- 
ing heat. Compare ver. 216. 

* From any other quarter.] Ver. 134. Aliunde porro. From any 
other place else. Porro is equivalent to else or besides, 

* I now affirm that the mmd and soul, 4fc.] Ver. 137. He now 
asserts that the mind and soul form one substance, but that the mind 
(animus, which is also called consilium and mens, reason and intel- 
lect) remains seated in the breast, and influences the soul, which is 
diffiised throughout the l^ody, and which is often itself aflrec1;ed with 
pleasure or pain, when the soul connected with it is wholly un- 


106 LUCEETIUS. B. III. 138—168. 

one another, and form of themselves one nature or substance; 
but that thai which is as it were the head, and which rules in 
the whole body, is the reason, the thinking or intellecitLal part 
which we call mind and understandiug; and this remains seated 
in the middle portion of the breast. For here dread and terror 
throb ; around these parts joys soothe ; here therefore is the 
understanding and mind. The other part of the soul, or vital 
power^ distributed through the whole body, obeys, and is moved 
according to the will and impulse of the mind. And this rational 
or inteUectttal part thinks of itself alone, and rejoices for itself, 
at times when nothing of the hind moves either the rest of the 
soul or the body, ^d as when the head or the eye, when 
pain affects it, is troubled in us, and as part of us, but we are 
not afflicted throughout the whole body, so the mind is some- 
times grieved itself aUmCy and is sometimes excited with joy, 
when the other part of the soul, diffused through, the limbs and 
joints, is stimulated by no new sensation. But when the mind 
is more than ordinarily shaken by violent terror, we see the 
whole soul, throughout the several members, S3rmpathize with 
it, and perspirations and paleness, in consequence, arise over 
the whole body, and the tongue rendered powerless and the 
voice die away ; while we find the eyes darkened, the ears 
ringing, and the limbs sinking underneath. 

Furthermore, we often see men faint altogether from terror 
of mind ; so that any one may easily understand from this, 
that with the mind is united the soul, which, when it has been 
acted upon by the power of the mind, then influences and 
affects the body. 

This same course of reasoning teaches us that the nature 
or substance of the mind and soul is corporeal ; ^ for when 
this nature or substance is seen to impel the limbs, to rouse 
the body from sleep, and to change the countenance, and to 
guide and turn about the whole man ; — of which effects we 
see that none can be produced without touch, and that touch, 
moreover, cannot take place without body ; — must we not ad- 
mit that the mind and soul are of ar corporeal nature ? 

* The same — reasoning — mind and souT corporeal.] Ver. 162. 
As the mind and soul act upon the body, they must be corporeal, 
for nothing but bod^ can act upon body ; fa be asserts, i. 305 : Tan- 
gere eninif et tanffi, ntai corpus, nulla potest res. 

B. ni. 169—183. LUCRETIUS 107 

Besides, you see that the mind suffers with the body,^ and 
sympathizes for us with the body. Thus^ if the violent force 
of a dart, driven into the hody^ the bones and nerves being di- 
vided, does not hurt the life itself ^ yet there follows a languor, 
and a kind of agreeable inclination-to-sink to the ground,^ and 
when we are on the ground, a perturbation^ and giddiness 
which is produced in the mind, and sometimes, as it were, an 
irresolute desire to rise. It therefore necessarily follows that 
the nature of the mind is corporeal, since it is made to suffer 
by corporeal weapons and violience. 

I shall now proceed to give you a demonstration, in plain 
words, of what substance this mind is, and of what it consists. 

In the first place, I say that it is extremely subtle,^ and is 
formed of very minute atoms. And you may, if you please^ 
give me your attention, in order that you may understand 
clearly that this is so, from the following arguments.^ No- 
thing is seen to be done in so swift a way,^ as if the mind pro- 

* Suffers with the body.] Ver. 169. Fungi eum corpore. Facere et 
fimgni Bine corpore nulla potest res, i. 444. 

• Agfreeableinclination-to-sink-tothe^ ground.] Ver. 173. Terraque 
petitua auams. Properly a seeking of the ground. He uses a soft kind 
of expression, says Wakefield, because he does not speak of such 
injury as takes away all power, but only of such as stupifies the 
senses ; an effect similar to that which is produced by wine. 

• Perturbation.] Ver. 174. ^attu, '* Conturbatio." Lambintu, 
"Fluctuatio." Wakejield, 

* In the first place extremeljr subtle.] Ver. 180. He now 

proceeds to show that the soul and mind consist of subtle and fine 
particles, agreeably to the opinion of Epicurus, who calls the soul 
AtTTTOfupkQ awfia. and says that it consists of atoms not very dissimi- 
lar to tnose of nre. 

* From the following arguments.] Ver. 182. Hinc, 

• Nothing is seen to be done in so swift a way, S^c.'] Ver. 183. 

Nil adeo fieri celeri ratione videtur. 

Quam si mens fieri proponit, et incnoat ipsa. 

This seems to be but a cumbrous and circuitous way of expressing 
that nothing is so active as thougM, Good has it, 

nought so swiftly speeds 
As what the mind determines and completes. 

Creech contents himsell with 

no action is so swiftly done 
As what the mind begins. 

Busby is very spirited, to show how Lucretius ought to have ex- 
pressed himseli : 

108 LUCRETIUS. b. hi. 184—214. 

poses it to be done, and itself undertakes it. The mind, 
therefore, impels itself more speedily than any thing, amonff 
aU those of which the nature is manifestly seen before our 
eyes. But that which is so exceedingly active, must consist 
of atoms exquisitely round and exquisitely minute ; that they 
may be moved, when acted on, by a slight impulse. For 
water is moved, and flows, with so trifling a force as we see 
act upon it, inasmuch as it is composed of voluble and small 
particles. But the substance of honey, on the other hand, is 
more dense, and its fluid sluggish, and its movement more 
tardy ; ^ for its whole mass of material-particles cHngs more 
closelj together ; because, as is evident, it consists of atoms 
neither so smooth, nor so small and round. For a gentle and 
light breeze can make a tall heap of poppy-seed waste away, 
from the top to the bottom, before your eyes; but» on the con- 
trary, can have no stich effect u^n a heap of stones and darts; 
particles, therefore, according as they are most diminutive^ 
and most smooth, have also the greatest facility of motion. 
But, on the other hand, whatever particles are found of a 
greater weight, and rougher surface, are so much the more 
fixed and difficult to move. 

Since, therefore, the nature of the mind has been found pre- 
eminently active, it must of necessity consist of particles ex- 
ceedingly diminutive, and smooth, and round. Which point, 
being thus known to you, my excellent friend, will be found 
useful, and be of advantage, in many of i/our future in- 

This fact alsp indicates the nature of the soul, and shows 
of how subtle a texture it consists, and in how small a space 
it would contain itself, if it could be condensed; because, 
when the tranquil repose of death has taken possession of a 
man, and the substance of the mind and the soul has departed, 
you can there perceive nothing detracted as to appearance. 

Attend : this potent truth thou 'It well perceive ; 
For what its point so swiftly can achieve 
As mind ? In boundless nature what can vie 
With its unlimited velocity ? 

' Movement more tardy.] Ver. 193. CunctanUor (tctitts. " Actus : 
i. e.motus. Festus, ** Actus aigniAcat — moftim corporis." Wakefield. 

' According as they are most diminutive, ^c] Ver. 200. Par- 
viasima pro quam et Uvisaima sunt, Comp. ii. 1136. The Lexicons 
supply no other instances ofpro quam but these two. 

B. III. 216— 283. . LUCRETIUS. 109 

nothing as to weight, from the whole body. Death leaves all 
things entire,^ except vital sense and quickening he^t.^ 

It must therefore necessarily be t^e case, that the whole 
soul consists of extremely small seminal-atoms, connected and 
diffused throughout the veins, the viscera, and the nerves ; 
inasmuch as, when the whole of it has departed from the 
whole of the body, the extreme outline of the members still 
shows itself unaltered, nor is an atom of weight withdrawn ;' 
just as is the case when the aroma of wine has flown off, or 
when the sweet odour of ointment has p&ssed away into the 
air, or when the flavour has departed from any savoury sub- 
stance ;^ for still the substance itself does not, on that account, 
appear diminished to the eye, nor does any thing seem to have 
been deducted from the weight ; evidently because many and 
minute atoms compose the flavour and odour throughout the 
whole constitution of bodies. 

Wherefore again and again / say, you may feel assured 
that the nature or substance of the mind and soul is produced 
from exquisitely small seminal-atoms, since, when it escapes 
from the hody^ it carries away no weight with it. 

Nor yet is this nature or substance to be regarded by us as 
simple and uncompounded. For a certain subtle aura^ mixed 

* Death leaves all things entire.] Ver. 215. Mor» omnia prastat. 
" Mors omnia relmquit Integra." Lambimu, ** Facit ne quid detri- 
menti m mole corporis appareat." Faber, 

' Quickening heat.] Ver. 217. Calidumque vaporem. Compare 
ver. 127. 

* Nor is an atom of weight withdrawn.] Ver. 221. Necd^pon- 
deris hikim, '* Hilum they consider to be that which adheres to a 
beau," (as we say, the black of a bean^ " from which comes nihil and 
nihUvm" Fettua, *' The ancients used hHum for vUumy any (small) 
thing." Priadan, b. vi. p. 687. 

* Flavour has departed from any aavoury substance.] Ver. 224. 
SuctM de corpore cessit, Suctu, or ntcciu, is evidently here nothing 
more than flavour; as, probably^ in Hor. Sat. ii. 4,^ 70, Picenis 
cedunt pomis Tiburtia succo. The reader, I fear, will hardly be- 
lieve me, when I tell him that Good translates it, 

From man 
Th' excreted lymph exhales. 

* Subtle aura.'] Ver. 233. Tenuis aura. I have thought it better 
to preserve the word aura in the English, than to render it by t>a- 
pour, or, as Good has it, " gas.** A few verses below, Lucretius 
calls it venti coca potettaa. 

110 LUCilETIUS. B. III. 234— 266. 

with heat, leaves dying persons; the heat, moreover, carries 
air with it ; nor is there any heat with which air is not also 
mixed ; since, as its^ substance is rare, many atoms of air must 
necessarily be borne with it 

The ^bstance of the mind is now therefore found to be 
triple. Nor yet are all these constituent parts, aura, heat, 
and air, sufficient to produce mental sense or power; since 
the mind admits none of these to be able to generate sensible 
motions, such as revolve any thoughts in the mind. A certain 
fourth nature, or substance,^ must therefore necessarily be 
added to these ; this is wholly without a name ; it is a sub- 
stance, however, than which nothing exists more active or 
more subtle, nor is any thing more essentially composed of small 
and smooth elementary particles; and it is this substance 
which first distributes sensible motions through the members. 
For, being formed of small atoms, it is itself first excited ; 
then the heat, and the secret power of the aura, receive motion 
from it; next the air, and afterwards all parts, are quick- 
ened ; the blood is agitated, and all the viscera partake-in-the- 
sensation ; and (whether it be pleasure, or whether it be the 
contrary feeling) it is communicated to the bones and marrow 
last ofall» Nor can pain easily penetrate, or any violent evil 
spread, so far as this, without all parts being perturbed : so 
that, in such a case, room is wanting for life, and the particles 
of the soul fly off through all the passages of the body. But 
on the surface of the body, as it were, a limit is generally put 
to sensible motions ; and from this cause we have the power 
to retain life within us. 

And now, though I would fain give a full exposition, in 
what manner these principles are mixed one with another, 
and^how, being arranged, they possess vigour, the poverty of 
my native tongue restrains me against my will ; but notwith- 
standing, as far as I shall be able to treat of these subjects 
summarily, I will touch upon them. 

For the primordial-atoms, by the motion of the elements 
among themselves, so actively-intermingle in the substance of 
the soul, that no one 'can be separated from the rest, nor can 
their power become divided by any interval, but, being many, 

* A certain fourth nature, or substance.'] Ver. 242. Quarta quadam 
natura. The reader now understands Lucretius*s composition of the 
soul. See note on ver. 121. 

B. HI. 287—297. LUCRETIUS. 1 1 1 

tliej are, as it were, the power of a single body. As, in the 
herd of animals, whicfasoever you would inspect,^ there is a 
certain odour, and heat, and taste ; and still from all these is 
composed one mass and combination of body. So heat, and 
air, and the secret power of aura, and that other active force, 
(which communicates the beginning of motion from itself to 
the other three, whence a sensible movement first arises 
through the viscera,^) being mixed, produce one nature or sub' 
stance. For this fourth principle lies entirely hid, and re- 
mains in secret, within ; nor is any thing more deeply seated 
within our body ; and it is itself, moreover, the soul of th^ 
whole souL As the force of the mind, and the power of the 
soul, mixed up with our limbs and entire body, remains latent, 
because it is composed of small and few atoms, so this name- 
less force, compounded of small particles, lies concealed, and 
is besides, as it were, the very soul of the whole soul, and 
rules throughout the whole body. In like manner, it must be 
the case that the aura, and air, and heat, mixed throughout 
the limbs, possess-their-vigour one with another ; and that 
one may possibly subside at times, or become prominent, more 
than the rest ; but so that they may still seem to be one prin- 
ciple compounded of them all ; and that the heat and aura by 
themselves, or the power of air by itself, may not, being se- 
parated from the whole, destroy and dissipate the sense. 

There is also that heat in the mind, which it assumes in 
anger, when it bums, and ardour gleams vividly from the 
eyes. There is also much cold aura^ the attendant of fear, 
with which it produces shivering throughout the various mem- 
bers, and agitates the limbs. There is also that state of the air 
when at rest, which happens in concurrence with a tranquil 
breast and serene countenance. But in those animals, whose 
fierce hearts, and angry feelings, easily bum in wrath, there is 
more heat; in which class especially is the violent fury of 

* As, in the herd of animals, whichsoever you would inspect.] 
Ver. 267. QiMd gentu^ in quo via animantvm viaere vttlgo. Quod genus 
is the same as guemadmodum; on which point the reader may con- 
sult Wakefield on this verse, and on iv. 739. The same words occur 
a little below, ver. 277 and 328. " In quo vis animantum yisere 
vulgo," says Wakefield, " is in vulgjo animantum, quo vis visere, 
i. e. quemcunque animantem velis mtueri." The editions before 
Wakefield reaa in quovia — viacere, which Lachmann has recalled. 

' Viscera.] Ver. 273. Viacera meant aU porta under the akin, except 
bone. See on i. 836. 

112 LUCRBTIUS. b. hi. 298—323. 

lions, which, raging, often burst, as it werCy their hearts with 
roaring, nor can contain within their breasts their torrents of 
ire. But the cold temperament of deer has more of the aura 
in it, and sooner excites a chill influence through the viscera, 
which cause a tremulous motion to arise in the limbs. But 
the nature of the ox subsists more on calm air, nor does the 
smoky torch of wrath, appHed to him,^ ever irritate him to 
fury like that of the liofiy suffusing him with a shade of thick 
darkness ;^ nor is he torpid, transfixed with the cold darts of 
aura; but is situate between the two natures, those of deer 
and fiercer Uons. 

Thus is the race of men. £cu;h has a certain temperament; 
and though instruction may in a manner render some in- 
dividuals polished, it still leaves the first traces of the nature 
of every mind ; nor is it to be thought that vices can be so 
plucked out by the root, but that one man will run more 
readily than another into violent anger ; a second will be af- 
fected somewhat sooner than another by fear ; while a third 
wiU regard certaiB things more mdulgently than is right. And 
in many other respects the various natures, and yielding man- 
ners of men, must necessarily differ ; of which differences I 
cannot now explain the secret causes, nor find so many names 
for figures as there are diversities of shape in the atoms from 
which this variety in things arises. 

Bfit, with reference to these subjects, I think myself compe- 
tent to affirm this ; that so small are the traces left of the natural 
principles, which reason cannot remove^ by her dictates, that 
nothing hinders men from leading a life worthy of the gods. 

* Nor does the smoky torch of wrath, applied to him, ^c] Ver. 
304. Nee minus irai fax nunguam subdita percit Fumida, There 
seems scarcely any possibility of extracting satisfactory sense from 
this line, unless by considering minus nunguam equal to unquam; 
and this construction I have adopted. Lambinus read^ nee nimis irai 
fax unquam; and had Lachmann, who follows Lambmus, and who 
in other places animadverts severely on Wakefield and Forbiger, 
said that nobody but they could thmk this verse in a right state, 
most readers would surely have agreed with him. The meaning is 
evident ; that the oi may be excited, but not to the same degree as 
the lion. 

* Suffusing — darkness.] Ver. 305. Sujffundens cocas califfinisumbram. 

* So small are the traces left of the natural principles, which rea- 
son cannot remove.] Ver. 321. 

Usque ade5 naturarum vestigia linqui 
Parvola, quse nequeat ratio depellere dictis. 

B. m. 324—861. LUCRETIUS. 113 


This mental nature, therefore,^ or compound intellectual 
substance, is contained in every body, and is itself the 
guardian of the body, and the cause of its safety ; for the two, 
the body and soul, cohere, as it were, by common roots, with 
one another, nor seem capable of being torn asunder without 
destruction to both. For as it is impossible to s^arate the 
perfume from balls of frankincense, without the nature of it, 
at the same time, being destroyed, so it is impossible to ex- 
tract the nature or substance of the mind and soul from the 
whole body, without aU parts being dissolved; with such 
closely interwoven elements, from their first origin, are they 
endowed with common life ; nor does the power of the body 
or mind seem capable of having-perception apart, each for it- 
self, without the vigour of the other ; but the sentient-power 
lighted up through our viscera is conjointly- produced by their 
common motions one with the other.^ 

Besides, the body is never produced,^ nor ever grows, by 
itself ; nor is it observed to retain-its-existence after death, or 
the departure of the soul from it. Foi; it is not as when the 
liquid-substance of water frequently throws off heat, which 
hns been communicated to it, nor is on that account dispersed 
itself; — not so, I say, can the limbs, when deserted by the sotd, 
bear the separation of the soul from them, but, thus divided 
from it, altogether perish and rot. For the mutual inter-con- 
nexions of the soul and the corporeal frame, from the very be- 
ginning of life, even in the body and secret woml) of the mother, 
so acquire the vital movements together, that a separation 
cannot take place without destruction and damage to each ; so 
that you may see that, since their means of preservation are 
united, the nature and substance of them must also be united. 

For what remains to be considered, if any one denies that 

The Delphin editor explains naturarum to signify hetit, air, and atmt, 
of which (with the fourth, or reason) the soul and n^ind consist. 
Some, as Lambinus observes, would read natural. 

* This mental nature, thereiore, ^c] Ver. 324. " This nature, com- 
posed of the four above-mentioned substances." Lambiniu, 

* Common motions one with the other.] Ver. 336. Communibus 
inier eo8 — utrinque motibus, Utrinque: proceeding from both. The 
fourth substance of the* mind, however, is the prime mover, ver. 246. 

» Besides, the body is never produced, 4rM Ver. 338.' Prceterea 
corpus per se nee gignitur unquam, " The body, whether of man, or 
of any other animal.'^ Lambinus, 

11| LUCRETIUS. B. III. 352— 371. 

the body has sense, and believes that the soul, mixed with the 
entire body, takes wholly upon itself that motion which we 
call sense; he contends against manifest and certain facts. 
For who will ever explain what it is for the body to have 
sense, if it he not that which experience itself has manifestly 
shown and taught us ? But the soul being set free from the 
bodyy the body is void of sense in all parts : for it loses that 
which was not peculiar to itself in any period of its life ; and 
it besides loses many things as the soul is-being-expelled 
by age,^ 

To affirm, moreover, that the eyes^ themselves can see no 
object, but that the mind merely looks through them as through 
open doors, is difficult ; when the sense of these eyes leads to a 
contrary opinion; for the sense of the eyes draws the mmd? 
and attracts it from within^ to the sights or pupils themselves. 
While, let it especially be considered^ we are often unable to 
Jook at bright objects, because our eyes are prevented by their 
effiilgence ; which is not the case with regard to mere doors ; 
for mere open doors, where we look through, do not feel any 
inconvenience. Besides, if our eyes are only instead of doors, 
the mind, when the eyes are ta^ken out, atid the door-posts 
themselves, so to speak^ removed, seems bound to see even 
;nore clearly than before. 

Qn these points, you can by no means assume as true^ that 

^ And it besides loses many things as the soul is-being-expelled 
by age.] Ver. 359. Mtdtaque praterea perdit^ quum expeUitur €bvo. I 
have interpreted this line according to Wakefield, who, however, 
reads dum. The soul loses some portion of her faculties, as the body 
decays, and is about to part from her. Forbiger, thinking that the 
verse may be spurious, mcludes it in brackets. Lachmann g^ves 
nullaque, from conjecture. 

' To affirm, moreover, that the eyes, ^c] Ver. 360. Dicere porro 
oetdosy &c. There were some who thought that the whole body did 
not possess or exercise sense, but the mmd only, which, residing in 
the body, saw and heard, Sjc,, through the organs of it; among 
whom was Epicharmus, who used to say the mind sees, the mind hears. 

' For the sense of the eyes draws the mind, S^c.'] Ver. 363. Senstts 
enim trahit, atque acies detncdit ad ipsas, " The sense of the eyes, 
struck with external objects, calls forth the mind to the pupils of the 
eyes, so that, the powers of the mind and the eye being united, the 
faculty of vision may arise from their combination." Wakejield. 

* On these })oints, you can by no means assume as true, S^c'] Ver. 
371« Democritus taught that the atoms of the soul, and those of 

B. III. 872—397. LUCRETIUS. ,1 1 5 

which the divine opiDion of the philosopher Democritus lays 
down ; namely^ that the several atoms of the hodj and mind, 
applied and corresponding each to each, vary and connect the 
members.' For not only are the atoms of the soul much 
more diminutive than those of which our body and viscera 
consist, but are also inferior in number, and are distributed 
thinly, with spaces between them, throughout the limbs ; so 
that you may safely warrant that 'the primary particles of the 
soul occupy, cmd are distributed at those intervab only, at 
which corporeal atoms cast upon us, and striking- against us, 
may, if of sufficient gravity, be able to excite sensible motions 
through the body, the concussions being communicated from 
the surface to the internal parts. For neither at times do we 
perceive the adhesion of dust on the body, nor feel powdered 
chalk, shaken over the limbs, settle on them ; nor do we feel 
a mist at night, nor the subtle threads of the spider's web 
meeting us, when we are entangled in them as we go along ; 
nor do we notice the old vesture of the same spider fall upon 
our head, nor feathers of birds, or thcflying down of thistles, 
which, from extreme lightness, generally fall with difficulty, 
and strike but gently the object on which they fall; nor do we 
observe the progress of every creeping animal, nor every first 
step of the feet, which gnats and other such insects place upon 
' our body ; so many particles in us must be moved, before the 
primordial-atoms of the soul, mixed throughout the limbs in 
our bodies, can feel-the-sensation, and, impelling one another, 
(at how great intervals !) can, in succession, strike together^ 
meet, and rebound. 

And the mind is more efficient in holding the bars of life,^ 

the body, were equal in number, and were united, atom ta atom, 
throughout the whole human frame. But this cannot be true, savs 
Lucretius ; for, if it were, whatever might touch any atom on the 
surface of the body, however lightly, would agitate the correspond- 
ing atom* of the mind; whereas many substances touch the body 
without the mind being sensible of the contact 

* Connect the members.] Ver. 874. Neetere membra. " So unit« 
them, that they may haVe motions in common^ and conspire one 
with another." Wakejield. 

' Corporeal atoms, cast upon us, ^.'] Ver. 879. Prima corpor4t 
n€)bi8 injecta. *' Atoms so casting themselves upon us, and striking 
^g^ainst us, as to produce sensible motions in the body, by arousing 
^He ijower of the mind to its duty." Wakefield, 

' And the mind is more efficient in holoing the bars of life, 4r^;l 

I 2 

116 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 398—421. 

and more prevalent to preserve vitality, than the power of the 
soul. For without the understanding and mind no part of 
the soul can have-its-residence in the body even for a small 
portion of time ; but when the mind takes its departure^ the 
soul readily follows as its companion, and leaves the chilled 
limbs in the cold of death. But he to whom understanding 
and mind have remained, contitiues in life, although he be 
mutilated^ with his limbs even cut off on all sides. The trunk, 
though portions of the soul be taken away around it, and it he 
separated from the limbs, still lives, and inhales the vital air ; — 
deprived, if not altogether, yet in a great measure, of the soul, 
it still delays and <;ontinues in life. So when the eye is la- 
cerated round about, if the pupil has remained uninjured, the 
vivid faculty of seeing survives ; hut this is only provided you 
do not injure the entire ball of the eye, but merely cut round 
the pupil, and leave that alone whole; for such injury cannot 
be committed without destruction of the eyes; but, if the very 
smallest part of the middle of the ball is perforated, though 
the bright orb he otherwise unharmed, the sight is at once 
lost, and darkness follows. With such a connexion the soul 
and the mind are constantly united. 

And now attend. That thou mayest understand ^ that living 
creatures have minds, and subtle souls, born and perishable^ 
I will proceed to arrange verses worthy of thy life and vir- 
tues, ^ verses collected during a long time, and prepared with 

Ver. 397. Et magis est animus vita'i claustra coercens. As he has 
placed the mind (animtis) in the breast, and distributed the soul 
(anima) through the whole body, he now shows that though part of 
the soul may, by mutilation of the body, be taken away, life, as 
long as the mind remains uninjured, will still be preserved ; just as 
the sight of the eye will continue perfect, as long as no damage is 
done to the pupil. 

- And now attend. That thou mayest understand, 4f<^.] Ver. 418. 
He now proceeds, with all the force of reasoning that he can collect, 
to show that the united substance of the mind and soul is born, grows, 
decays^ and dies, together with the body. In this process he uses, 
as he gives notice, the words mind and soul indiscriminately. Creech 
distinguishes the whole demonstration into eight and twenty argu- 
ments ; Eichstadt into six and twenty. We may rather consider 
the first twenty as the real and positive arguments, and regard the re- 
maining six as additional observations, I shall notice the different 
head^, as we proceed, at the commencement of each paragraph. 

* Worthy of thy life and virtues."] Ver. 421. Digna tua carmina 
vita. " Worthy of thy life and conduct, whom the Muse has wiUed 

B. III. 422-436. LUCRETIUS. 117 

sweet labour. And thou, wiy friend, take care to include 
both of them under one name, whichsoever of the two I may 
use ; and, for example, when I proceed to speak of the soul, 
teaching that it is mortal, suppose that I also speak of the 
min^ ; inasmuch as they are one by mutual combination, and 
their substance is united. 

In the first place, since I have shown ^ that the soul, being 
subtle, consists of minute particles, and is composed of much 
smaller atoms than the clear fluid of water, or mist, or smoke ; 
(for it far surpasses those bodies in susceptibility-of-motion, 
and is more readily impelled when acted upon from a slight 
cause ; inasmuch as both the mind and soul are moved by the 
mere images of smoke and mist ;^ as when, lulled in sleep, we 
see high altars exhale with vapour, and carry up smoke; 
since doubtless these phantasms are produced in us;)^ now, 
therefore, J say, since, when vessels are broken to pieces, 
you see water flow about, and any other liquid run away; 

at aU Hmes to excel, being graced with every ffift,** Wakefield, See L 
27, 28. 

* In the first place, since I have shown, 4rc.] Ver. 425. This is 
his Jirst arffument. Since the soul is more subtle than vapour or 
smoke, it must surely be sooner dissipated than those lignt sub- 
stances, when it is once set free fcpm tne body that confines it, 

' Inasmuch as both the mind, and soul are moved by the mere 
images of smoke and mist.] Ver. 431. Quippe ubi imagin^ua fumi 
nebulajue moventur, " Quippe ubi," says Lambinus, " is gvippe quia, 
or quippe ct)m." Moventttr, m the plural, is the reading of Wakefield, 
to include the mind and the soul ; but, as Lachmann remarks, it is 
absurd, since Lucretius considers the two as one ; other copies have 
movetur. As to the imagines in the mind, says Tumebus, (Advers. 
XX. 26,) Lucretius means that *^ the atoms of the mina are finer 
than those of smoke and mist, since they are moved even by the 
images and Hmulacra of smoke and mist." " A pleasant argument," 
says Faber ; '* the images of smoke and mist move the mind ; there- 
fore it must be very light." 

• Since doubtless these phantasms are produced in us.l Ver. 434. 
Nam proctd hoc dubio nobis simulacra genuntur, ** Procul dubio ista- 
rum rerum phantasmata per simulachra in nobis excitantur." 
Creech. Lucretius, with his master, Epicurus, thought that the 
imaffes thrown ofi* from objects (as snown in book iv.) flying about 
in the air, and coming in contact with our bo^es, produced such 
impressions upon the soul as to excite dreams. "For without 
images," says Lambinus, ** Epicurus supposed that nothing could 
be seen, or thought, or dreamed." Incahibessit, at the end of the 
paragraph, (ver. 445,) I have rendered as the present. 

1 18 LUCRETIUS* b. hi. 437—464. 

and since, cdso, mist and smoke disperse into the air ; you 
must conclude that the soul is likewise scattered abroad, and 
is dissipated much sooner than mist and smoke^ and more 
i easily resolved into its original elements, when it has once been 
withdrawn from the body of a man, and has taken its def^ar-* 
ttire. For how can you believe that this soul can be held 
together by any combination ^air, when the body itself (which 
is, as it were, its vessel) cannot contain it, t^ i^ ^ convulsed 
by any violence, or rendered thin and weah by blood being 
taken from the veins ? How can that air which is more rare 
than our body confine it ? 

Besides,(we observe that the mind is produced^ together 
with the body, and grows up along with it, and waxes old at 
the same time toith it. For as children wander and totter 
about with a weak and tender body, so the subtle sense of the 
mind follows and corresponds to the weakness of their frame^ 
Then, when their age has gro>7n up in robust vigour, their 
understanding is also greater, and their strength of mind 
more enlarged. Afterwards, when the body is shakea by the 
prevailing power of time, and, the strength being depressed^ 
the limbs have sunk into infirmity, the understanding then 
halts, the tongue apd the mind lose their sense, all parts fail 
and fade away at onceT] It is therefore natural that the whole 
substance of the soul should ba dissolved, as smoke, into the 
sublime air of heaven ; since we see that it is produced toge-« 
ther with the body, and grows up together with ity and both, 
as I have shown, overcome by age, decay in concert. 

To this is added,* that as we observe the body itself to- 
be-subject-to violent diseases and severe pain, so we see the 
mind to be susceptible of sharp cares, and grief, and fear. 
For which cause it is reasonable that it should also be a par- 
taker of death. 

Moreover the mind, in diseases of the body, often wanders 

* Besides, we observe that the mind is produced, S^c^l Ver. 446. 
The second argument. Since the mind appears tender when the body 
is tender; mature, when the body is mature; and declining, when 
the body is declining ; it is but fair to conclude, that it perishes 
when the body perishes. 

' To this is added, 4^.] Ver. 460. The third argument. Since, 
when the body is weakened by disease, the mind or soul is weaken- 
ed with it, must we not conclude that, when the body dies, the 
mind or soul dies wi^ it ? 

B. III. 466-490. LUCRETIUS. 119 

distracted ; for it loses its faculties, and utters senseless 
words ; and sometimes, by a heavy lethargy, is borne down into 
a deep and eternal sleep, the eyes and the nodding-head sink- 
ing ; ^ hence it neither hears the voice, nor can distinguish 
the countenances, of those who stand around recalling it to 
)[ife, bedewing their faces and cheeks with tear£) Wherefore 
you must necessarily admit that the mind is also dissolved, 
since the contagion of disease penetrates into it. For pain 
and disease are each the fabricator of death ; a trtUh which 
we have been taught by the destruction of many millions in 
past times. 

Further, when the violent power of wine ^ has penetrated the 
heart of men, and its heat, being distributed, has spread into 
the veins, a heaviness of the limbs follows, the legs of the 
tottering person are impeded, the tongue grows torpid, the 
mind is, as it were, drowned ; the eyes swim ; noise, hiccups,^ 
and quarrels arise, and other things of this kind, whatever are 
consequent on intoxication. Why do these effects happen, 
unless because the vehement force of the wine has exerted- 
it3-cu8tomary-power to disturb the soul as it is dffused 
through the body itself? But whatsoever things can be thus 
disturbed and obstructed in their operations^ show, that if a 
cause somewhat stronger shall spread within them^ the conse- 
quence will be that they must perish, deprived of all future 

Moreover, frequently, overcome by the force of disease,^ a 
person suddenly falls down before our eyes, as if struck by 
the blow of a thunder-bolt, and foams at the mouthy groans, 
and trembles in his joints, loses his senses, stretches his nerves 
to rigiditt/y is distorted, pants with irregular breathing^ and 

' The eyes and the nodding-head sinking.] Ver. 467. OcuUa^ nu- 
tuque cadenti, " By nutus cadena nothing more seems to be signified 
than the dejection or sinking down of the head." Lambintis, 

' Further, when the violent power of wine, ^cj] Ver. 475. The 
fourth argument* Since intoxicating power, such as that of wine, 
can disturb the soul, why may not a stronger force utterly de^ 
stroy it ? 

» Hiccups.] Ver. 479, SingvUuSy Jurgia gliscunt, " Hiccough^ 
noise, and strife.'* Good, 

* Moreover, frequently, overcome by the force of disease, ^.] 
Ver. 486. The Jlfth argument. Since the soul, in a case of morbu9 
comitialis, or falling sickness, is torn and distracted, why may it 
not, at death, be dtogether dissolved and dispersed t 

120 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 491-615. 

wearies Iiis limbs with tossing about ; evidently because the 
violence of the malady, dispersed throughout the body, and 
acting upon the soul, perturbs it, as the waves, on the foaming 
salt ocean, boil with the strong fury of the winds. Groans are 
then forced out, because the limbs arQ seized with pain, and 
especially because the particles of the voice are drawn forth, 
and carried, collected in a body^ out of the mouth, the way by 
which they have, as it were, been accustomed topass, and where 
the course of the road is paved ^br them} Loss of understand- 
ing takes place, because the united power of the mind and 
soul is disturbed, and, as I have shown, is divided and rent 
asunder, distracted by that same distemper. Afterwards, when 
the cause of the disease has given way, and the violent humour 
of the disordered body has retired into its hiding-place, then, 
as if staggering, iS^ej^er^on^first rises, and, by degrees, returns 
to all his senses, and re-possesses the right state of his soul. 

When these substances^ therefore, the tnind and the soul, 
are shaken with such powerful diseases in the body itself, and 
suffer, distracted in such miserable ways, why do you conceive 
that the same mind and soul can support an existence with- 
out a body, in the open air, and amidst strong winds ? 

And since we see that the mind may be healed,^ like a sick 
body, and wrought upon by means of medicine, this also sig- 
nifies that the mind exists only as a mortal substance. For 
whoever attempts,, and commences, to change the mind, or to 
alter any other nature or substance ^ whatsoever, it is requi- 
site either that he add new parts, or transpose the parts in a 
new order, or take away at least some small portion from the 
whole. But any substance, which is immortal, neither allows 

' The course of the road is paved for them.'] Ver. 497. Sunt 
mvnita viai. The expression seemed so strange to Lambinus, that 
he wished to cancel the whole verse, but, as it seems, without rea- 
son. We say of a man who drinks very not liquids, that hia throat 
must be paved. 

* And since we see that the mind may be healed, ^c] Ver. 509. 
The sixth argwnent. Since the mind, wnen affected by sickness, is 
restored, like the body in the same case, by medicine, must we not 
suppose that the mina is mortal like the body ? 

* To alter any other nature or substance.'^ Ver. 515. Aliam guam' 
vis naturam flectere. The Delphin editor Yightly interprets vuxtwram^ 
''rem," or substance ; a signification which it often has, as well in 
Lucretius as in Cicero and other philosophical writers. Flectere, to 
alter by restoring and improving. 

B. III. 61&-634. LUCRETIUS. 121 

its parts to be transposed, nor to-be-increased-by-addition, nor 
permits an atom to pass away from them. For whatever, 
being changed, goes beyond^ its own limits, this change is 
forthwith the death or termination of that which it was before. 

The mind, therefore, whether it be diseased, or whether it 
be wrought upon by medicine, exhibits, as I have demonstrated, 
mortal symptoms: so far is the force of true reason seen to 
oppose false ^ reasoning^ and to cut off escape from him who 
sYaiukB from its conclusions, and to overthrow what is wrong 
by a double refutation. 

Furthermore, we often see a man decay by degrees,^ and 
lose his vital power in one limb after another, (hi the feet 
we observe the toes and nails first grow livid ; then the feet 
themselves and ihe legs mortify ; afterwards, throughout the 
.other limbs, we perceive the traces of cold death thence pro- 
ceed step by step.^ And since the substance of the soul is 
thus divided, and does not continue, always and at the same 
time, entire and unimpaired, it must be deemed mortal. But 
if perchance you think that the sovl can itself contract itself 
internally throughout the limbs, and condense its parts into 
one plcu:e, and thus withdraw feeling from all the members 

* For whatever, being changed, goes beyond, 4rc.] See i. 378, 875 ; 
ii. 761. 

' So far is the force of true reason seen to oppose false, S^cJ] Ver. 522. 

Usque adeo falsse rationis vera videtur 

Res occurrere, et effugium prsecludere eunti, 

Ancipitiqiie refutatu convincere falsum. 

The construction, according to Wakefield, is V&ra res rationis videtur 
occurrere falsa (ret rationis), Lambinus's reading, rationi, is much 
more simple : i. e. res vera, fact, experience, is seen to oppose /ab<B 
rationi, false reasoning. Eunti, i. e. effugienH, him that attempts to 
escape. Ancipiti refutatu, viz. both by falling sick and growing well* 
' Furthermore, we often see a man decay by degrees, i^c,] Ver. 
525. The seventh argument. Since the body oRen dies by degrees, 
limb by limb, must we n9t suppose that the soul, which is resident 
in it, dies gradually with it ? How can we suppose that a soul, ap- 
.parently decaying with a body partially simk in death, can be des- 
tined to live for ever in full vigour? 

* Afterwards thence proceed step by step.] Ver. 528. Post 

inde per artus Ire alios tractim — . Post, says Wakefield, refers to the 
lapse of time, inde to the spread of the disease. Tractim is sese tra^ 
hendo, dragging itself along slowly. — And does not continue, ^e.j 
Nee uno Tempore sincera exisHt. '* Nee eodem tempore tota sincera, 
integra, et incorrupta invenitur." Creech, ' 

122 LUCRETIUS. B. HI. 535—558. 

successively, yet, in such a case, that place in which so great 
a mass of soul is collected, ought to seem in possession of 
greater feeling. But since this place of such increased feeU 
ing is no wh^re apparent, the soul, as we said before, is 
evidently, being separated-into-parts, scattered abroad, and 
therefore perishes. 

Moreover, if we even consent to grant that which is false, 
and to allow that the soul may be ihus concentrated in the 
bodies of those who leave light and life hy djring part after 
part, you must still con^ss that the soul is mortal ; for neither 
is it of any importance whether it perishes, being scattered 
throughout the air, or loses its sense when drawn together 
from being dispersed in its several parts, ^ when animation 
steals away from the whole man more and more on all sides, 
and less and less of life is every where left. 

And as the mind is one single part ^ of a man, and remains 
fixed in a certain place, as the ears and eyes are, and the other 
organs of aense, whatsoever govern life; and as the hand, and 
the eye or nose, when detached from us, cannot, separately of 
themselves, have sensation or even existence, for, when cut off, 
they are in a short time wasted with putrefaction; so the 
mind cannot, of itself, exist without the body and the man 
himself, which body seems to be, as it were, its vessel, or 
whatsoever else you would imagine to be more closely united 
with it, since it adheres to the body by connexion. 

Further, the animated powers of the body and mind^ are 
vigorous, and enjoy life, only when joined with one another ; 

* Drawn together from betng diiperaed in its several parts.] Ver. 
544. Contracta suis ^ partibua. Loses its sense, obbrtUescat, Festus 
cites from Afranius, non possum verbum facere ; obrtOui; for obbrtUui, 
I have grown dull and stupid. 

• And as the mind is one single part, ^c] Ver. 547. The eiffhth 
argument. Since the mind is part of a man, like any other member 
or organ, as already shown (ver. 94) ; and since any other member 
or organ cannot exercise its functions, or even preserve its existence, ^ 
if separated from the body, how can we suppose that the mind dif-^ 
fers from them in this respect? 

' Further, the animatea powers of the body and mind, 4r^.] Ver. 
557. The ninth argument. The mind and body united together, 
enjoy life, but when they are disjoined, the body dies, and are we 
not to suppose that the soul dies also? Can we imagine that it pre- 
serves its existence in the^air ? At the commencement of the para- 
graph I have altered ^^M^cM into "powers/' 

B. ui. 669— 579c LUCRETIUS. 123 


for neither can the nature or substance of the mind, without 
the body, alone, and of itself, produce vital motions ; nor 
again, can the body, deprived of the soul, continue its state of 
existence, and use its faculties. Just, for example,^ as the 
eje itself^ torn from its.roots^ can discern no object apart 
from the whole body, so the mind or soul seems to have no 
power in itself; evidently because when mingled throughout 
the veins and viscera, throughout the nerves and bones, they 
are held-in-close-confinement by the whole body, and their 
primary.particles, not being free, cannot fly asunder to great 
distances ; consequently, being thus confined, they move with 
sensitive motions, with which, after death, when cast forth 
beyond the body into the air of heaven, they cannot move ; 
for this very reason, that they are not held-confined in a si- 
milar manner. For surely the air forms body and soul,^ if 
the soul shall be able to keep itself together in the air, and 
to contain itself for exerting those motions, which it before 
exercised amidst the nerves, and in the body itself. On 
which account, 1 say again and again, you must necessarily 
admit that when the whole enclosure of the body is dissolved^ 
and the vital breath cast forth, the sentient-existence of the 
mind and the soul is dissolved ; since there is common cause 
and like fate to both. 

Besides, when the body cannot bear the dissociation ^ of the 

* Just, for example, ^c] Ver. 562. Scilicet, — Ver. 564. " Mind 
or soul seems:" anima atque cutimtts — videtur, — Ver. 665. ''when 
mingled :" mtar^zw. 

' For surely the air forms body and soul, ^c.] Ver. 572. 
Corpus atque animam serit aer, si cohibere sese animal atque in eos 
poterit concludere motus'&cc. The serit is Wakefield's; Lambinus 
and his followers have corpus eftim atque animans erit aer; on which 
Lambinus very judiciously comments thus: "If the atoms of the 
soul, when in the open air, can keep themselves together, and pro- 
duce the same motions as when they were in the body, the air will 
then be both a body and a living creature; but this is absurd, there- 
fore, 4rc." But this did not satisfy Wakefield, who, finding in cer- 
tain manuscripts serit, transferred it to his text, with an exposition 
which I shall leave in his own Latin. " Aer est, qui serit (vel gig- 
nit * * .* ) corpus et animam, (i. e. animantem ex utroque compo- 
situm) si in aere se continere possit (anima) atque ab aere cohiberi : 
nihil simplicius et luculentlus. Forbiger of course dutifully followed. 
But Lachmann has verv wisely reinstated the reading of Lambinus* 

' Besides, when the body cannot bear the dissociation, ^c.] Ver. 
579. The tenth argument. Since, on the separation of the soul and 

124 LUCRETIUS, B. III. 580--603. 

soul, without putrifying with offensive odour, why do you 
doubt but that the essence of the soul, rising from the depths 
and innermost part of the body, has passed forth, and has been 
diffused abroad like smoke ? and that for this reason the body, 
decaying with so great a dissolution, has utterly fallen away, 
because the foundations ^ have been removed from their place, 
and the spirits pass out through the limbs, and through all 
the windings of the passages and ducts that are in the body ? 
So that you may understand from many considerations, that 
the nature or substance of the soul, being disparted, has gone 
out through the members of the body, and that it was disse- 
vered within the body itself, before, gliding outwards, it flowed 
forth into the air of heaven. 

Moreover, whilst the soul dwells within the bounds^ of life, 
it yet frequently, when it has received a shock from some 
cause, seems to pass away, and presents the appearance that 
the mind is let loose from the whole body ; and the counte- 
nance then seems to become inanimate as at the last hour, and 
aU the relaxed members to fail the languid frame. Such is 
the case, when it is said that the mind ha« been damaged,^ or 
the vital power has suffered-syncope ; while all is trepidation, 
and all are anxious to recover the last link of life. For then 
all the mind, and power of the soul, are shaken ; and these, 
it is evident, sink with the body itself ; so that a cause of some- 
what greater force may bring them to dissolution. 

Why then do you doubt, but that, at the hour of death, the 
soul dnven forth at length, weak and helpless, out of the body, 

body, the body falls to pieces, why should we conceive that the 
soul remains entire? 

* Foundations, ^c] Ver. 584. Mota loco sunt Fundamenta. 

' Moreover, whilst the soul dwells within the bounds, ^c] Ver. 
591. The eleventh argument. In a fainting fit we see the soul de- 
prived of its powers even while it yet remains in the body ; and 
now is it then to sustain itself when it is deprived of the covering 
and protection of the body? 

' That the mind has been damaged, S^cJ] Ver. 596. 

Quod genus est, animo mal^ factum quum perhibetur, 
Aut animam li^uisse^ ubi jam trepidatur, et omnes 
Extremum cupiunt vitse reprehenaere vinclum. 

The expression animo mdU. factum, ** the mind has been damaged,*' 
says Wakefield, was the vulgar phraseology; the phrase animam 
liqiMse, XetflTo^vviierat, " suffered-syncope," the mode in which the 
better instructed spoke. 

B. III. 604-625; LUCRETIUS. 125 

and being in the open air, with its covering removed, can not 
only not endure throughout all time, but' cannot even main- 
tain-its-existence for the smallest space whatsoever ? 

Nor does any one, when dying, appear to feel * his soul go 
forth entire from his whole body, or come up first to his 
throat, and to his jaws above it; but he finds that part of it 
which is placed in any certain portion of the body, fail and 
decay in that part; as he is conscious of the other senses 
losing-their-power each in its own quarter ; but if our soul 
were immortal, it would not so much complain that it suffers 
dissolution when dying, but would rather rejoice t6 pass forth 
abroad, and to leave its covering, as a snake delights to cast its 
skifiy or an old stag its too long antlers. 

Again, why are the understanding and faculty^ of the mind 
never produced in the head, or the feet, or the hands, but re- 
main-fixed, in all men alike, in their peculiar seats and defi- 
nite quarters, if it be not that certain spots are assigned to 
each part to be bom in, and where each, whatever it be, may 
preserve-its-existence when born ; and if it be not that such 
is the case with respect to the whole of the various members, 
so that there may no where arise an improper arrangement of 
the parts ? So invariably, in the operations of nature, does 
one thing follow another ; nor is fire wont to be produced 
from rivers, or cold to be generated in fire. 

Besides, if the nature of the soul is immortal, and can 
have-a-sentient-existence,^ when separated from our body, 

# * Nor does any one, iivhen dying, appear to feel, ^c] Ver, 606. 
The twelfth argument. Who, at death, feels his soul going out en- 
tHre from him ? Does it not seem to lose its vitality, throughout the 
body, e(^ually with the various organs of the body ? 

' Again, why are the understanding and faculty, ^c.] dl5. The 
thirteenth argument. Why is the mind always generated in the breast, 
if it be not that a certain part or organ of the body is assigned to it 
as to each of the senses ; an organ with which it is bom and with 

which it dies? The whole of the various members.] Ver. 620. 

Multimodis pro totis artubus; " multimodis " being ian adjective. 

• Besides, if sentient existence, ^c] Ver. 624. The fintr- 

teenth argument. If the soul, after death, is to live and enjoy sense, 
it must have organs of sense ; but it has left the organs of sense 
in the body. 1 have added a few words at the end of the para- 
graph. Lachmann improves the whole of it by rea^ng, in ver. 632, 
anima for amm<2, according to a conjecture of Pius. 

126 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 626—654. 

we must consider it, as I suppose, to be endowed with the 
five senses ; nor in^any other way can we represent to our- 
selves the infernal souls as wandering on the hanks of the 
Acheron. Accordingly painters, and the past generations of 
writers, have introduced in their compositions souls thus en- 
dowed with senses. But neither can the eyes, nor the nos- 
trils, nor the hand itself, preserve-existence apart from the 
soul ; nor can the tongue ; nor can the ears perceive hearing, 
or even remain-in-being, apart yVom the sotd, ffow then can 
souls be possessed of the Jive senses^ when all the organs of 
those senses have perished ? 

And since we see that the vital sense spreads through the 
whole body,* and that the whole is animated, if, on a sud- 
den, any violence shall cut through the body in the middle, so 
as to sever the two parts asunder, the substance of the soul, 
also, without doubt, being disunited and divided together with 
the body, will be dispersed and scattered abroad. But that 
which is divided, and separates into any parts, evidently 
shows that it has not an ever-during nature. 

People relate that chariots armed with scythes, warm with 
promiscuous slaughter, often cut off limbs with such sudden- 
ness, that the part which, being severed, has fallen from the 
body, is seen to quiver on the ground, when, notwithstanding, 
the mind and spirit of the man, from the quickness of the 
wound, cannot feel any pain. And because at the same time, 
the mind, in the ardour of battle, is given up to action, it 
pursues fighting and slaughter with the remainder of the 
body ; nor is one man aware, frequently, in the midst of ttfe 
horses, that the wheels and amputating scythes have carried 
away his left hand, which is lost together with its defence ; 
nor is another conscious^ while he climbs the wall and presses 
forward, that. his right hand has dropped off. A third next 
attempts to rise after having lost his leg, while his djdng foot, 
close by Jdm, moves its toes on the ground. And the head of 

* And since vital sense — through 'the whole body.] Ver. 634. 

The ffieenth argument. Since the soul spreads through the body, it 
may be divided with the body : but that which may be divided is 
mortal. Or shall we say that wnen a limb is cut off from the body, 
and shows that it retains life in it, there is still in it a soul? But to 
assert this would be to assert that one animal has many souls. 

B. III. 65fiH-679. LUCRBTITTS. 127 

a fourthy severed from the warm |md living trunk, keeps, 
while lying on the ground, its look of life and its eyes open, 
until it has yielded up all remains of the soul within it. 

Moireover, if, when the tongue of a serpent vibrates against 
you^ and his tail and long body threaten yauy you may feel 
inclined to cut both tail and. body into several parts with your 
sword, you will see all the parts separately, cut through with 
the recent wound, writhe about, and sprinkle the earth with 
blood ; and you toill observe the fore part, turning backward, 
i^eeking itself, that is, the kinder part of the body, with its 
mouth, so that, pierced with the burning anguish of the 
wound, it may seize it with its teeth. 

Shall we then say that there are entire souls in all those 
several parts ? But from that position it will follow that one 
living creature had several souls in its single body. And since 
this is absurd, we must admit, therefore, that that has been 
divided which was one with the body ; wherefore both must 
be thought to be mortal ; since both are equally divided into 
several portions. 

Besides, if the nature of the soul exists imperishable, and 
is infused into men * at their birth, why are we unable to re- 
member the period-of-existence previously spent by us, nor 
retain any traces of past transactions ? For if the power of 
the mind is so exceedingly changed, that all remembrance of 
past things has departed from it, that change, as I think, is 
not far removed from death ilself. For which reason you 
must of necessity acknowledge, that whatever soid previously 
^^sted has perished, and that that which exists for the pre- 
sent has been produced for the present. 

Again, if, after the body is completely formed,* the vital 

* Besides, if the nature of the soul — infused into men, S^,"] Ver. 
670. The sixteenth argument, " If the soul, being^ immortal, and 
existing entire, before the formation of the body, is at length in- 
fused into it. (as was the opinion of Pythagoras ana Plato,) wnf has 
no. one (Pytnagoras alone excepted) remembered his past life? But 
if the soul, thus previously existing, lost all recollection of the past 
at its entrance into the body, why may not that which is subject to 
such a loss of memory, be liable to death itself? " Creech, Comp. 
i. 117. 

'. Again, if after the body is completely formed, ^c.l Ver. 679. 
The seventeenth argument. Were the soul lodged in the body after the 
body is formed, it might be expected to live as an animal in a cage, 


128 ' LUCRETIUS. B. III. 680-703. 

power of the soul is wont to be introduced into us at the very 
time when we are born and when we cross the threshold of 
life, it would not be in accordance with this, that it should seem, 
(IS it now seems, to have grown up in the blood itself together 
with the body, and with its several members ; but it would 
rather be natural that it should live alone, as in a cage, by 
itself aTid for itself; though in stick a manner, that the whole 
body, hy its influence, should abound with sense and vitality. 
For wMch reason, / say again and again, we must neither 
think that souls are without begini^ng, nor that they are exempt 
from the law of death. For neither must we deem that fiouls, 
if infused into us from without, could have been so completely 
united with our bodies ; (which complete union, on the con- 
trary, manifest experience proves to take place ; for the soul 
is so combined vnth the body throughout the veins, viscera, 
nerves, and bones, that even the very teeth have a share of 
feeing ; as their aching proves, and the acute-pain from cold 
water, and the cranching of a hard pebble ^ suddenly among 
our food ;) nor, when they are so completely united, does it 
seem possible for them to come out entire, and to extricate 
themselves unharmed from all the nerves, and bones, and 

But if still, perchance, you think that a soul, infused from 
without,^ is wont to expand itself through our limbs, yet to 
odmitHhis, is only to admit, that every man's soul, being spread 
out with the body, will so much the more certainly perish 
with it. For that which is diffused throtighottt the body, is 
dissolved with it, and therefore perishes. Being distributed, 
then, through all the passages of the body, — as food, when it 

not difiused) as it is throughout the whole substance of the body, 
with which it seems to be bom only that it may die with it. 

* The cranching of a hard pebble, ^cJ] Ver. 694. Et lapis oppres- 
sus subitis e frugihus cLsper, Literally, and a rotigh stone pressed-on from 
sudden com, or bread. The feeling in the teeth, he says, shows that 
the soul pervades the teeth. 

^ But if still, perchance, you think that a soul, infused from with- 
out, ^c] Ver. 698. The eighteenth argument. But suppose that a 
soul, formed before the birth of the body, is infused into the body, 
must it not, being so intimately united with the body, be subject to 
change with it, rrom the influence of different kinds of food, and 
other causes? And must not a being thus subject to change with 
the body, be liable to destruction together with it? 

B. xn. 704—722. LUCRETIUS. 129 

is distributed through all the members and limbs, is dissolved, 
and takes of itself another nature,' — so the soul and the mind, 
although, under this supposition, they go whole into the body 
at first, yet are dissolved, like digested food, in diffusing them- 
selves dirough it, while the particles are distributed, as if 
through tubes, into all the limbs ; the particles, I say, of which 
is formed this substance of the mind, which now rules in our 
body, and which has been generated, Uke the new nature of 
food, from that which lost its consistence when it was spread 
throughout the limbs. 

For which reasons, the nature or substance of the soul seems 
neither to have been without a natal day, nor to be exempt 
from death. 

Again, whether do any atoms of the soul remain^ in a dead 
body, or not ? For if any remain and exist in the body, it will 
not be possible for the sovl to be justly accounted immortal; 
since when she took her departure, she was diminished of some 
lost particles. But if, when removed, she fled with all her 
parts so entire, that she left no atoms of her substance in the 
body, whence do dead carcasses, when the viscera become pu- 
trid, send forth worms ? And whence does such an abund- 
ance of living creatures, void of bones and blood, swarm over 
the swollen limbs ? 

But if, perchance, you think that perfectly-formed souls 

* Is dissolved) and takes of itself another nature.] Ver. 704. 
Disperit, atque alidm naturam aufficit ex se. " Loses its own proper na- 
ture, and forms another substance altogether different from what it 
was at first." Creech, 

As vanish foods, through every mazy gland, 
Through every limb when urged, to different forms 
Converting gradual. Good. 

Sufficit, that is, (say Lambinus and Faber,) '' suppeditat, subminis- 
trat." The food, by being dissolved, supplies, rumishes, presents, 
exhibits^ is converted into, a substance of a different nature from 
that which it had at first — The soul and the mind — are dissolved.] 
Disaolvuntur, He means that, while^ the soul would be expanded 
throughout the bodv, its original consistence would be much altered, 
many of its particles being detached from others by intervening 
particles of the body. 

' A^ain, whether do any atoms of the soul remain, ^c] Ver. 713. 
The nineteenth argument. When a man is dead, does any portion of the 
soul remain in the dead body ? If none remains, how are worms 
animated ? If any remains, how can the soul be pronounced indis- 
soluble and imperishable ? 

130 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 723-743. 

may be insinuated into those worms from without, and if ycm 
suppose that they may pass each into its own body, and yet 
omit to consider for what cause many thousands of souls should 
congregate in the place from which one soul has withdrawn^ 
this point, however, which you leave out of consideration, is 
of such a nature, that it seems especiaUy worthy to be sought 
into and brought under examination. It is proper not only 
to reject, I say, whether souls hunt for particular atoms of 
worms, and build for themselves carcasses in which they may 
dwell, or whether they infuse themselves into bodies already 
made ; but also to consider that there is no reason to be given ^ 
why they should make bodies, or why they should labour at 
aU; for, while they are without a body, they fly about undis- 
turbed by diseases, and cold^ and hunger ; since it is the body 
thai rather labours under these maladies, (as well as from 
death,) and the soul suffers all evils from contact with it. 
But, nevertheless, let it be as advantageous as you please for 
these souls to make a body which they may enter, there seems, 
however, to be no means by which they may make it. It is 
fair, therefore, to conclude that souls do not make for them- 
selves bodies and limbs. Nor yet is there a possibility, as it 
appears, that they can be infused into bodies perfectly-formed ; 
for neither uTider that supposition can they be exactly fitted 
together ; nor will their mutual-motions be carried on with 
sympathy. • 

Furthermore, why does violent rage^ attend upon the sullen 
breed of lions, and craft upon that of foxes ; and why is flight 
communicated to stags from their sires, and why does hereditary 

* Reason to be given, S^/] Ver. 731. Dicere mppeditat. In 
ver. 733, Jmia is used for mora, as is frequently the case in Tacitus. 

* Furthermore, why does violent rage, ^c.J Ver. 741. The twenr- 
tteth argument, directed against the Pythagoreans. If souls, as the 
followers of Pythap^oras declare, remain immortal,^ and pass from 
body to body, now is it that, occasionally, the dispositions of animals 
have not been varied by a difference in the souls that have passed 
into them? How is it, for example, that the soul of a lion, passing 
into a sta^, has never produced a lion-like stag, or that a numan 
soul, passing into a horse, has never made a rational horse? Or, 
supposing human souls restricted to human bodies, how is it that 
the soul of a man^assing into a child, has never produced a mature- 
minded child? What reason can be gfiven for the non-occurrence 
of such phenomena^ but that no such transmigrations take place, and 
that in every individual body its own particular soul is generated, 
grows, and decays ? 

B. III. 744— 771. LUCRETIUS. 131 

fear add speed to their limbs? And as to other qualities of 
this sort, why do they all generate, in the body and temper- 
ament, from the earliest period of life, if it be not because a 
certain disposition of mind ^rows up together with each body 
from its own seed and stock ? But if the soul were immortal, 
and were accustomed, tzs the Jh/thagoreans think, to change 
bodies, surely animals would gradually alter, and grow of 
mixed dispositions ; the dog of Hyrcanian breed would often 
flee from the assault of the homed stag ; the hawk, flying 
through the air of heaven, would tremble at the approach of 
the dove ; men would lose their understanding, and the savage 
tribes of wild beasts become reasonable. 

For that which some assert, namely, that an immortal soul 
is altered by a change of body, is advanced upon false reason^ 
ing ; as that which is altered, loses its consistence, and there- 
fore perishes ; since the parts are transposed, and depart from 
their original arrangement ; wherefore the parts of the soul, 
under this hypothesis, must also be subject to dissolution 
throughout the limbs ; so that finally they may all perish to- 
gether with the body. 

But if they shall say that the souls of men always migrate 
into human bodies, I shall nevertheless ask, why a soul, from 
being wise in a tvise body, should possibly become foolish in 
the body of a fool; why no child is found discreet, or inform- 
ed with a soul of mature understanding, and why no foal of 
a mare is as skilful in his paces as the horse of full vigour ? 
why, I say, is this, if it be not because a certain temper of 
mind grows up with each body from its own seed and stock ? 
These philosophers, forsooth, will take refuge in the assertion,^ 
that the mind becomes tender in a tender body ; but if this 
be the case, you must admit that the soul is mortal, since, 
being so exceedingly changed in its new body, it loses its 
former vitality and powers. 

Or in what way will the vigour of a soul,* strengthened in 

] Take refuge in the assertion.] Ver. 769. " Confugient e6 
scilicet, ut dicant men tern tenerascere in corpore tenero." Laimbi- 
nui. But if the soul is thus changed, it must be mortal, for what- 
ever is immortal is unchangeable. 

* Or in what way will the vigour of a soul, ^.] Ver. 770. Having 
hitherto fought with his heavy battalions, says Creech, he now 
brings forward his light troops, and adds six arguments of a less 
forcible character. I shall entitle t]»ese, additumal observatioM, The 

s 2 

132 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 772-790. 

concert with each particular hodj, be able to reach with it 
the desired flower of mature age, unless it shall be joined to it 
in its first origin ? Or with what motive does the soul go 
forth from limbs that are grown did ? Does it fear to remain 
imprisoned in a decaying-carcass, lest it should decay vnth it? 
Or is it afraid lest its tenement, shaken with a long course of 
Hfe, shoidd fall and overwhelm it ? But to that which is 
immortal, there are no such dangers. 

Moreover, to imagine that souls stand ready ^ at the amor- 
ous intercourses, or parturitions, of beasts, to enter into the 
young, seems exceedingly ridiculous. It appears too absurd to 
suppose that immortal beings, in infinite numbers, should 
wait for mortal bodies, and contend emulously among them- 
selves which shall be first and foremost to enter ; — ^unless per- 
chance you suppose that agreements have been made among 
the souls, that the first which shall have come flying to the 
body, shall have first ingress, and that they may thus have 
no contest in strength with one another. 

Again, neither can a tree exist in the sky,^ nor clouds in 
the deep sea ; nor can fish live in the fields ; nor blood be 
in wood, nor liquid in stones. It is fixed and arranged where 
every thing may grow and subsist ; thus the nature or sub- 
stance of the mind cannot spring up alone without the body, 
or exist apart from the nerves and the blood. Whereas if this 
could happen, the power of the mind might at times rather 
arise in the head or the shoulders, or the bottom of the heels, 
and might rather accustom itself to grow in any place, than to re- 
main in the same man and in the same receptacle.^ But since 
it seems fixed and appointed also in our own body, where the 

Jirst iBj^ that if the soul were independent of the bod^, and not bom 
with it, it would hardly desire to live in it from its infancy to its 
maturity, and, if not afraid to die with it, would hardly be always 
found to leave it at an advanced age. 

' Moreover, to inmgine that souls stand ready, S^c.'] Ver: 777. 
The second additionaZ obaervcstion. That it is ridiculous to suppose that 
immortal beinj^ should contend for mortal bodies. 

* Again, neither can a tree exist in the sky, ^cJ] Ver. 785. The 
third additional observation,^ That, as every animal and vegetable 
production grows and dies in its proper place, so it is to be consider- 
ed that the soul of a man pows and dies in and with his body. 

* In the same receptacle.] Ver. 794. In eodem vase. He seems 
to refer to what he said above, ver. 141, as to the mind being situ- 
ated in medid reffione pectoris. 

B. III. 796-«29. LUCRETIUS. 1 33 

soul and the mind may subsist and grow up by themselves, it 
is so much the more to be denied that they can endure and be 
produced out of the entire body. For Avhich reason, when the 
body has perished, you must necessarily admit that the soul, 
which is diffused throughout the body, has perished with it. 

Besides, to join the mortal to the immortal,^ and to suppose 
thai they can sympathize together, and perform mutual opera- 
tionSy is to think absurdly ; for what can be conceived more 
at variance with reason^ or more inconsistent and irreconcila- 
ble in itself, than that that which is mortal, joined to that which 
is imperishable and eternal, should submit to endure violent 
storms and troubles in combination with it ? 

Further, whatsoever bodies remain eternal,^ must either, as 
being of a solid consistence, repel blows, and suffer nothing tor 
penetrate them, that can disunite their compact parts within ; 
{such as are the primary-particles of matter, the nature of 
which we have shown dbove ;) or they must be able to en- 
dure throughout all time^ because they are free from blows, 
or unsusceptible of them ; (as is a vacuum, which remains in- 
tangible, and suffers nothing from a stroke ;) or they must be 
indestructible for this reason, that there is no sufficiency of 
spaceVound about, into which their co/z^^'^e^^Tif substances may, 
as it were, separate and be dissolved ; (as the entire universe is 
eternal, inasmuch as there is neither any space without it into 
which its parts may disperse; nor are there any bodies 
which may fall upon it, and break it to pieces by a violent 
concussion :) but, as I have shown, neither is the nature of 
the soul of a solid consistence, since with all compound bodies 
vacuum is mixed ; nor is it like a vacuum itself; nor, again, 
are bodies wanting, which, rising fortuitously from the infi- 
nite of tilings, may overturn this frame of the mind with a 
violent tempest, or bring upon it some other kind of disaster 
and danger; nor, moreover, is vastness and profundity of 
space wanting, into which the substance of the soul may be 
dispersed, or may otherwise perish and be overwhelmed by 
any other kind of force. The gate of deatl^ therefore, is 
not shut against the mind and sotd. 

* Besides, to join the mortal to the immortal, 4r<?.] Ver. 801. 
The fourth additional observation. That the immortal cannot well con- 
sort with the mortal. 

* Further, whatsoever bodiea remain eternal, ^c] Ver. 807. The 
Jifth additional obaervatioti. That for certain otner reasons, (fully set 
forth in the text,) the soul cannot be imperishable. 

134 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 830—863. 

But if perchance the soid, in the opinion of any^ is to be 
accounted immortal the more on this account,^ that it is kept 
fortified by things preservative of life; or because objects 
adverse to its sf^fetj do not all approach it ; or because those 
that do approach, being by some means diverted, retreat be- 
fore we can perceive what injury they inflict ; the notion of 
those who think thtis is evidently far removed from just rea- 
soning. For besides that it sickens from diseases of the body, 
there often happens something to trouble it concerning fu- 
ture events, and keep it disquieted in fear, and harass it 
with cares ; while remorse for faults, from past acts wickedly 
and foolishly committed, torments and distresses it. Join 
to these afflictions the insanity peculiar to the mind, and the 
oblivion of all things ; and add, besides, that it is often sunk 
into the black waves of lethargy. 

Death, therefore, is nothing, nor at all concerns us, since 
the nature or substance of the soul is to be accounted mortal. 
And as, in past time, we felt no anxiety, when the Cartha- 
ginians gathered on all sides to fight toith our forefathers, and 
when all things under the lofty air of heaven, shaken with the 
dismaying tumult of war, trembled with dread ; and men were 
uncertain to the sway of which power every thing human, by 
land and by sea, was to fall ; so, when we shall cease to be, 
when there shall be a separation of the body and soul of which 
we are conjointly composed, it is certain that to us, who shall 
not then exist, nothing will by any possibility happen, or ex- 
cite our feeling, not even if the earth shall be mingled with 
the sea, and the sea with the heaven. 

And even if the substance of the mind, and the powers of 
the soul, after they have been separated from our body, still 
retain-their-faculties, it is nothing to us, who subsist only as 
being conjointly constituted by an arrangement and union pf 
body and soul together. Nor, if time should collect our ma- 
terial-atoms after death, and restore theni again as they are 
now placed, and the light of life should be given back to us, 
would it yet at all concern us that this were done, when the 
recollection of our existence has once been interrupted. And 

' But if immortal the more on this account, S^c,"] Ver. 830. 

The sixth additional observation. That if any think the mind unas- 
sailable by trouble and disease, which cause weakness and decay, 
experience refutes them. 

B. III. 864-«74. LUCRETIUS. 135 

it is now of no importance to us, in regard to ourselves, what 
we were before ; ^ nor does any solicitude affect us in reference 
to those whom a new age shall produce from our matter, 
should it again be brought together as it is at presen)t. For 
when you consider the whole past space of infinite time, and 
reflect how various are the motions of matter, you may easily 
believe that our atoms have often been placed in the same 
order as that in which they now are. Yet we cannot revive 
that time in our memory ; for a pause of life has been thrown 
between, and all the motions of our atoms ^ have wandered 
hither and thither, far-away from sentient-movements. For 
he, among men now living, to whom misery and pain^ are to 

* It is of no importance to us, what we were before.] Ver. 864. 

£t nunc nil ad nos de nobis attinet ante 
Quel fuimus. 

Supposing that the atoms of a man who lives now, existed ages ago 
in the same combination, that is, formed the same person, (of which 
he admits the possibility in ver. 870,) it is of no importance to him 
what he did or su£fered then, since death has intervened and inter- 
rupted all consciousness and memory. Interruptasemel quum sit repe- 
tentia nostrU^ sc. rebus (ver. 863) ; as Wakefield and Forbi^er have 
it; Lambinus and his followers read nostra; Lachmann gives reti~ 
nentia nostri, 

• All the motions of our atoms, S^cJ] Ver. 872, 873. 

Inter enim jecta est vital' pausa, vag^que 
De 'rrArunt passim motus ah sensibus omnes. 

'* Morte enim vita fuit interrupta, motusoue omnes, quibus j aetata 
erant semina, erant a sensiferis motibus plan^ diversi. Creech. 

Because a pause of life, a gaping spade, . 
Has come betwixt, where memory lies dead, 
And all the wandering motions from the sense are fled. 

The atoms of the body at its dissolution, became mere brute sense- 
less matter. 

' For he, among men now living, to whom misery and pain, ^c] 
Ver. 874, seq. This passage, as gfiven by Wakeneld and copied 
by Forblger, is one of the most unsatisfactory in Lucretius. In 
Lambinus's edition, and all others before WaKefield, the passage 
stood thus : 

Debet enim, miser^ quoi forte segnreque futurum est. 

Ipse quoque esse in eo tum tempore, quom mal^ possit 

Accidere: At quoniam mors eximit im \Jor eum,J prohibetque 

Ilium quoi possint incommoda conciliari 

Hsec eadem in quibus et nunc nos sumus, ante fuisse ; 

Scire licet nobis nil esse in morte timendum. 

This state of the text gave very clear and straightforward sense ; 

136 LCCRETtDS. b. ni. B7fi-878. 

happen q/W Ms deadi, moat himself exiat again, in kis own 
idejttity, at that very time on which the evd which he is to 
. suffer may have power to fall ; but since death, which inter- 
rvpli all eonieiousnest, and prenent* all memory of the past, 
precludes (A« potgi&ility of thia ; and tinee the circumstance of 
having previously existed, prohibits him loho lived before, emd 
with whom these calamities which We suffer might be asso- 
bat Wakefield, referring k 
infected witb mala koMh, i 
athamed, and re-modelled the whole thus: 

Debet enim taiaere e«t quoi forte legreque futurum, 
Ipee quoijue esse in eo tmn tempore, quo! male posait 
Adcidere : id quoniam mors eiimit, esseque pronihet 
ninm, quoi poasint incomrooda concihari 
Hsc eadem, quibui i nunc noa aumua, ante f^iissej 
Scire licet, &c. 
Giving the following as the order and aenae : " Quoniam mora ex- 
imit id, et {rb) fuiese antl probibet ilium, cui b^ec incommoda pos- 
BJnt concilian, esse eadem (aemina), fe quibus nos nunc Bumus 
(compoaiti)." According to thia ioternretation, there ought to be a 
comma after Hitc, but there ia not, either in any edition of Wake- 
field, or in tboae of Eichatadt end Forbiger, who both copied bim. 
As I have followed Wakefield'a test, I have alao followed, as the 
reader will aee, bia interpretation; hut aurely lo make ante fuitia 
ibe nominative caae to prohibet, to refer htec to incommoda, and to 
couple eadem with the remote ease, can he eatisfsctory to few. Lacb- 
mann, the laat editor, makes a transposition of a verse, wtiicb I 
cannot exhibit to the reader without transcribing a few previous 

Facile hoc adt^rede^e poagis, 
Semina ssp^in eodem, utnunc aunt, ordine poate 
HiEc eadem, quibus % nunc noi sumus, ante fiiase : 

Nee memon tamen id quimus repraehendeie meote : 

Inter enim jectast vital pauso, vageque 

Deerrarunt passim motus a sensibus omneB. 

Debet enim, misere si forte aegreque liituiumat, 

Ipse quoque esse in eo turn tempore, cui male poasit 

Accidere: id <^uoniammorseximiL esseque probet (/or prohibet) 

Ilium cui poasit incommoda conciliori, 

Scire licet nobis, Ifc, 

This may be partly right, but, if I may venture to expresa an 

opinion, I should say that no alteration will restore the passage to 

its genuine state, unless it be such a« ahall, by whatever method, 

'n concUiari with mmina ; for concilia, conaliatm, and coneUium, ai 

■orda which Lucretiua deligbta to apply to hii atoms; and the 

' " Dmmoda conciliori " could hardly be regarded, in any 

author, {mali conciliati occurs in Pleut. Paeud. i. 2, 1,) 

pbraae " incommoda conciliari " could hardly be regarded, 

but a comic author, {mali cotic"--'-' ■"— • " — ^ 

otherwiae than with suapicion. 

B. m. 879—906. LUCRETIUS. 137 

ciated, from existing a second time, (with arvy recollection of 
his other life,) as the same combination of atoms of which we 
now consist, we may be assured that in death there is nothing 
to be dreaded by us ; that he who does not exist, cannot be- 
come miserable ; and that it makes not the least difference to 
a man, when immortal death has ended his mortal life, that 
he was ever b(»m at alL 

Whenever, therefore, you see a man express concern that 
it should be his lot after death either to putrify on the ground 
when his body is laid aside, or to be destroyed by flames, or 
by the jaws of mid beasts, you may know that his mind is 
not in a healthy state, and that some secret disquietude as to 
his fate is concealed in his breast, although he may himself 
deny that he believes any consciousness will remain to him 
after death. For, as I think, he does not make good what he 
professes, nor speaks from conviction, from which he pretends 
to speak ;^ nor withdraws and removes himself, in thought, 
wholly out of life, but^ foolish as he is, makes something of 
himself still to survive. For when any one of such a character 
represents to himself, while alive, that birds and beasts will 
tear his body at death, he is seized with commiseration for 
himself; for neither does he at all distinguish himself dead 
from himself living, nor sufficiently withdraw himself from 
his exposed carcass ; but supposes it to be still himself, and 
standing by it, in imagination, communicates to it a portion 
of his own feeling. Hence he is concerned that he was born 
mortal, nor reflects that in real death there wil} remain of him 
no other self, which, surviving, may mourn for him that he 
has perished, and, standing upright, may lament that he, lying 
down, is torn in pieces or burnt to ashes. For if it is an evQ 
at death, to be t//-treated by the jaws and teeth of wild beasts, 
I do not see how it can be otherwise than unpleasant for a 
man, being laid on a funeral-^pyre, to bum in hot flames, 
or, placed in honey, to be suffocated,^ or to grow stiff with 
cold, when he is lying on the highest flat of a gelid rock, or 

^ From convietiony from which he pretends to epeak,'] Ver. 889. Non 

-^■dat quod promittit et unde, " Unde promiserat se daturum." Wake^ 

field. He does not speak from sincere belief, as he professes to speak. 

— A little below, " roolish as he is " answers to imciue, which Creech, 

I think riffhtly, interprets etidtm. 

^ Placed in honey^ to be suffocated.] Ver. 904'. In meUe eitum 
suffocari, A mode of burial among the ancients. Xenophon (HeU 

138 LUCRETIUS. B. III. 906— 937. 

to be pressed down and overwhelmed with the weight of su- 
perincumbent earth. 

" For now,** men say, " your pleasant home shall no more 
receive you, nor your excellent wife; nor shall your dear 
children run to snatch kisses, and touch your breast with 
secret delight. You will no more be able to be in flourishing 
circumstances, and to be a protection to your friends. Un- 
happily, one adverse day has taken from you, unfortunate 
man^ all the numerous blessings of life." In such remarks 
they do not add this, " Nor now, moreover, does any regret 
for those things remain with you." ^ Which truth if men would 
well consider in their thoughts, and adhere to it in their words, 
they would relieve themselves from much anxiety and fear of 
mind. " You, for your part," says a mourner over a corpse, 
** laid to sleep in your bed, will so remain as you are for what- 
ever time is to come, released from all distressing griefs ; but 
we, standing near you, shall inconsolably lament you reduced to 
ashes on the awful pjrre ; and no lapse of time shall remove our 
unfading sorrow from our hearts." Of him, however, who 
makes such lamentations, we may ask this question, "If the 
matter of death is reduced to sleep and rest, what can there be 
so bitter in it, that any one should pine in eternal grief for 
the decease of a friend ? " 

This also is often a practice among men, that when they 
have sat down to a feast, and hold their cups in their hands, 
and overshadow their faces with chaplets, they say seriously 
and from their, hearts, " This enjoyment is but short to us 
little men ; soon it will have passed ; nor will it ever here- 
after be possible to recall it." As if at their death this evil 
were to be dreaded above all, that parching thirst should scorch 
and bum up the wretches, or an insatiable longing for some 
other thing should settle on them. Yet how different tmll be 
the fact! Since not even when the mind and body are merely 
at rest together in sleep, will any one feel concern for himself 
and his life ; for, for our parts, our sleep might thus be eternal ; 
nor does any care for ourselves affect us ; and yet, at that sea- 
son, the atoms, throughout our limbs, withdraw to no great 
distance from sensible motions,^ and the man who is suddenly- 

len. V. 3, 19) mentions that Agesipolis, one of the Spartan kings, 
was buried in this way. 

* Remain with you.J Ver. 915. Insidet tmd, 

* Withdraw to no great distance from sensible motions.] Ver, 937. 

H. m. 938—970. > / LUCRETIUS. 1 39 

roused from sleeg' quickly recollects himself. Death, then, we 
must consider tolbe of far less concern to us, if less can he than 
that which we see to he nothing. For a greater separation of 
the atoms of matter takes place in death, nor does any man 
awake when once the cold pause of life has overtaken him. 

Furthermore, if universal nature should suddenly utter' 
a voice, and thus herself upbraid any one of us: "What 
mighty cause have vou, O mortal, thus excessively to in- 
dulge in bitter grief? Why do you groan and weep, at the 
thought of death ? Fcmt if your past and former life has been 
an object of gratification to you, and all your blessings have 
not, as if poured into a leaky vessel, flowed away and been 
lost without pleasure, why do you not, O unreasonable man, 
retire like a guest satisfied with life, and take your undisturbed 
rest with resignation ? But if those things, of which you have 
had the use, have been wasted and lost, and life is offensive 
to you, why do you seek to incur further trouble,^ which may 
all again pass away and end in dissatisfaction ? Why do you not 
rather put an end to life and anxiety ? For there is nothing 
further, which I can contrive and discover to please you ; every 
thing is always the same. If your body is not yet withered 
with years, and your limbs are not worn out and grown feeble, 
yet aU things remain the same, even if you should go on to out- 
last all ages in living ; and still more would you see them 
the same, if you should never come to die." What do we 
answer to this, but that Nature brings a just charge against 
us, and sets forth in her words a true allegation ? 

But would she not more justly reproach and upbraid, in se- 
vere accents, him who, being miserable unreasonably, deplores 
death ? " Away with thy tears, wretch," she might well say, " and 
forbear thy complaints." But if he who is older, and more 
advanced in years, complain, she may retort thus: "After 
having been possessed of all the most valuable things of life, 
thou pinest and wastest away with age. But, because thou 
always desirest what is absent, and despisest present ad-^ 

Haudqitttquam longi db senHferia motibua errant. Compare ver. 

873. Deerrdrunt passim motus ab sensibus manes, 

* If UNIVERSAL NATURE should Suddenly utter, ^c] Ver. 944. 
" So Cicero, in his Ist Oration against Catiline, introduces his Coun- 
try speaking ; and Plato the Laws in his Apology.*' Lambintts. 

* Incur further trouble.] Ver, 954. Amplius addere—4naU, Others 
read mal^, which, taken yritlipereat, makes better sense. 

140 LUCRBTIUS. B. III. 971—998. 

vantageSy'^^e has passed from thee imperfect and unsatisfactory, 
and death has stood by thy head unawares, and before thou 
canst depart content and satisfied with thy circumstances. 
Now, however, resign all things unsuitable to thy age, and 
yield at once, with submissive feelings, to that which is 
stronger than thou;^ for it is necessary." iln^^ justly, as I 
think, would she address him; justly would she upbraid and re- 
proach him ; for that which is old, driven out by that which is 
new, always retires, and it is indispensable to repair one thing 
out of another ; nor is any man consigned to the ^MofErebuSy 
or black Tartarus, hut allowed to retire peaceablt/ to a dream- 
less sleep. The matter, of which thou art madey is wanted 
by nature that succeeding generations may grow up from it ; 
all which, however, when they have passed their appointed 
term of life, will follow thee : and so have other generations, 
before these, fallen into destruction; and other generations, 
not less certainly than thyself, will fall. Thus shall one thing 
never cease to rise from another ; and dius is life given to 
none in possession, but to all only for use. 

Consider, also, how utterly unimportant to us was the past 
antiquity of infinite time, that elapsed before we were bom. 
This, then, nature exhibits to us as a specimen of the time 
which will be again after our death. For what does there 
appear terrible in it ? Does any thing seem gloomy ? Is not 
all more free from trouble than any sleep ? 

And of the souls likewise, whatever are said to be in the 
profundity of Acheron, all the sufferings happen to ourselves, 
not in death, but in life. Tantalus, torpid with vain terror, 
does not (as it is reported) fear the huge rock impending over 
him in the air ; but such terror rather dwells with us in life ; 
a groundless fear of the gods oppresses mortals, and they dread 
that fall which fortune may assign to each. 

Nor do vultures penetrate into Tityus, lying in Hades; 
nor, however they might search^ in his huge breast, would 

^ Yield at once, with submissive feelings, to that which is stronger 
than thouJ] Ver. 975. JEguo animoqtte, agedum, maanis concede. Wake- 
field considers that tnagnia means persons ; Orellius (in his EclogtB 
Poet. Latinorum) thinks that it is the neuter plural, but supposes the 
meaning tobe.efe^r^ from great things, i. e. pleasures or enjoyments. 
I think that '^dire necessity's supreme command " is intended. 

* Nor, however they might search, ^c] Ver. 998. Nee quid sub 

B. III. 999-^1031. LUCRETIUS. 141 

they be able to find, through infinite time, any thing to devour^ 
of however vast an extent of body he may be, even though it 
be such as may cover, with its limbs outspread, not merely 
nine acres, but the orb of the whole earth ; nor yet would he 
be able to endure eternal pain, or to supply food incessantly 
from his own body ; but he is a Tityus among us, whom, 
lying under the influence of love, the vultures of passion tear, 
and anxious disquietude devours; or whom cares, with any 
other unbecoming-feeling, lacerate. 

A Sisyphus, likewise, is before our eyes in life, who sets 
his heart ^ to solicit from the people the fasces and sharp axes, 
and always retires repulsed and disappointed. For to seek 
power, which is empty, nor is ever granted, and constantly to 
endure hard labour in the pursuit of it, this is to push with 
effort the stone up the hill, which yet is rolled down again from 
the summit, and impetuously seeks the level of the open plain. 
• To feed perpetually, moreover, an ungrateful nature, and 
to fill it with good things, and never to satisfy it; a kindness 
which the seasons of the year do to us, as they come round 
in their course, and bring their fruits and various charms ; 
whilst we, notwithstanding, are never satisfied with the bless- 
ings of life ; this is, I think, that which they relate of the 
damsels -in the flower of their youth, that they pour water into 
a punctured vessel, which, however, can by no means be filled. 

But also Cerberus and the Furies are mentioned, and pri- 
vation of light, and Tartarus, casting forth fires from it» jaws, 
objects which are no where, nor indeed can be ; but there is, 
in life, an eminent dread of punishment for enormous crimes ; 
there is the prison, the reward of guilt, and the terrible preci- 
pitation, of those who are condemned, from the rock ; there 
are stripes, executioners, the wooden-horse,* pitch, hot iron, 
fire-brands ; and though these may be absent, yet the mind, 

magna scrutentur pectore. Observe that the quid is for qvaniumcunqitey 
or utcunqtie, 

» Sets his heart.] Ver. 1010. Imbibit, " Imbibit petere is induxit in 
animitm petere. ' ' Lambinus, 

* Stripes, executioners, the wooden^horse, S^J] Ver. 1030. Ver- 
berat camijicea, robur, pix, lamina, tmdm. By rt^r is meant the ma- 
chine called equtdeiu. or little horse, on which slaves were placed to 
be tortured, fiy tak<8 is signified either firebrands, or lighted 
torches, applied to the person, or wood to which the sufferer was 
fixed, and to which Juvenal, i. 155, alludes. 

142 LUCRETIUS. b. hi. 1032—1059. 

conscious of evil deeds, feeling dread in anticipation, applies 
to itself stings, and tortures itself ynth. scourges, nor sees, in 
the mean time, what end there can be of its sufferings, nor 
whilt can be the limit of its punishment, and fears rather lest 
these same tortures should become heavier at death. Hence, 
in fine, the life of foold becomes, as it were, an existence in 

/ This reflection, likewise, you may at times address to your- 
self. " Even the good Ancus," as Ennius expresses it, " has de- 
serted the light with his eyes," ^ who was much better in many 
things than thou, worthless man I Besides, many other kings, 
and rulers of affairs, who swayed mighty nations, have yielded 
up the ghost. And what am I better than they ? 

He, even, himself, who formerly paved a road over the 
vast sea, and afforded a way to his legions to pass through 
the deep, and taught them to walk on loot through salt gulfs, 
and despised the murmurs of the ocean, trampling on it with 
his cavidry ; even he, I say, the light of life being withdrawn 
from him, poured forth his soul from lus dying body. 

Scipio, the thunderbolt of war, the dread of Carthage, gave 
his bones to the earth, just as if he had been the meanest 

Add to these, the inventors of the sciences and the graces ; 
add the associates of the muses ; over whom the unrivalled 
Homer having obtained the supremacy, has been laid to rest 
in the same sleep with others. 

When mature old age, too,' gave Democritus warning that 
the mindful motions^ of his intellect were languishing, he him- 
self, of his own accord, offered his head to death. 

Epicurus himself, having run through his light of life,^ is 
dead ; Epicurus, who excelled the human race in genius, and 
threw all into the shade, as the ethereal sun, when rising, 
obscures the stars. 

Wilt thou, then, hesitate, and grudge to die, in whom, even 
while living and seeing, life is almost dead? T%ou, who 

* Even the good Ancus has deserted the light with his eyes.] 

Ver. 1038. Lumina sis octUis, Sfc, These words were taken by Lu- 
cretius from Ennius, and are given by Festus under sas. 

* Mindful motions.] Ver. 1053. Memores mottts. 

* Having run throuffh his light of life.] Ver. 1055. Deourso lu- 
mine vita. " A metaphor from the sun, says Wakefield, ** who 
runs his daily course of light." 

B. III. 106(^^1094. LUCRETIUS. 143 

wastest the greater part of existence in sleep, and snorest 
waking, nor ceasest to see dreamfl, and bearest a mind dis- 
turbed with empty terror; nor canst thou, frequently, dis- 
cover what evil lUSects thee, when, stupified and wretched, 
thou art oppressed with numerous cares on all sides, and, 
fluctuating with uncertain thought, wanderest in error ?/ 

If men could feel, as they seem to feel, that there is an 
oppression on their minds, which wearies them with its 
weight, and could also perceive &om what causes it arises, 
and whence so great a mass, as it were, of evil exists in their 
breasts, they would not live in the manner in which we 
generally see them living; for we observe them uncertain what 
they would have, and always inquiringybr something new ; and 
changing their place, as if bi/ the change they could lay aside 
a load. 

He, who has grown weary of remaining at home, often 
goes forth from his vast mansion, and suddenly returns, inas- 
much as he perceives that he is nothing bettered by being 
abroad. He runs precipitately, hurrying on his horses, to his 
villa, as if he were eager to carry succour to an edifice on 
fire; but, as soon as he has touched the threshold of the 
building, he yawns, or falls heavily to sleep, and seeks for- 
getfulness of himself, or even with equal haste goes back and 
revisits thje city. 

In this way each man fiees from himself; but himself, as it 
always happens, whom he cannot escape, and whom he stiU 
hates, adheres to him in spite qfhis efforts; and for this rea- 
son, that the sick man does not know the cause of his disease, 
which if every one could understand, he would, in the first 
place, having Laid aside all other pursuits, study to learn the 
NATURE OF THINGS ; siucc in such inquiries the state of eter- 
nity, not of one hour merely, is concerned ; a state in which 
the whole age of mortals, whatever remains after death, must 

Besides, why does so pernicious and so strong desire of ex- 
istence compel us to remain anxious in uncertain perils ? A 
certain bound of life is fixed to mortals ; nor can death be 
avoided, or can we exempt ourselves from undergoing it. 

Moreover, we are continually engaged and fixed in the 
same occupations; nor, by the prolongation of life, is any 
new pleasure discovered. Yet that which we desire, seems, 

144 LUCRETIUS. b. hi. 1096-1107. 

while it is distant in the future^ to excel all other objects ; 
hu afterwards, when it has fallen to our lot, we covet some- 
thing else ; and thus a uniform thirst of life occupies us, long- 
ing earnestly for that which is to come ; while what fate the 
last period may bring us, or what chance may throw in our 
way, or what death awaits us, still remains in uncertainty. 

Nor, by protracting life, do we deduct a single moment 
from the duration of death ; we cannot diminish aught ^ from 
its reiguj or caiise that we may be for a less period sunk in 
non-existence. How many generations soever, therefore, we 
may pass in life, nevertheless that same eternal death will still 
await us. Nor will he be less long out of being,^ who ter- 
minated his 4ife under this day^s sun, than he who died many 
months and years ago. 

* We cannot diminish aught.] Ver. 1101. Nee delibrare valemus. 
*' Delibrare " is, to strip bark from a tree. 

* Nor will he be less long out of being,^^c.j Ver. 1105. Nee minus 

Hie diu jam non eritf et ule. It is requisite to translate et (like oc 

or atque) by than. 



After an ezordiimi, (rer. 1—26,) in which LncretLns speaks of his suliject, and 
his mode of recommending it, he proceeds to treat of the images of Epi- 
coms, by which the senses are excited, rer. 26 — 45. He shows that images, 
of exquisite subtlety, are .emitted from the surfaces of objects, which are 
for the most part unseen, but which are observed when reflected from a 
mirror, or any smooth surface, rer. 46—106. Besides these images de- 
tached from bodies, there are others spontaneously generated in the air, 
▼er. 109 — 216. He demonstnites that vision is produced by the impact of 
images on the eyes, ver. 217 — 239. He then scdves various questions re- 
lating to images in mirrors, and to light and shade, ver. 240 — 379. He 
ahows that the senses may be trusted, though some would question their 
evidence; and that false opinions arise from false reasoning about the 
testimony of the senses, ver. 380 — 469. Pursues the sul^ect more fully, 
refuting the Academic^, ver. 470 — 523. Proceeding to the other senses, 
he asserts that voice and sounda are of a corporeal substance, and dis- 
courses on the nature and formation of the voice, ver. 524 — 565. Speaks of 
jthe diffusion, reverberation, and penetration of sounds, ver. 566 — 617. 
Treats of taate and odour ^ and their diversities, ver. 616—724. Shows 
that imagination and thought are produced by means of images, which 
penetrate the body tiirough the senses, ver. 725—759. Explains the na- 
ture of dreams, and why a man thinks of that on which he wishes to 
.think, ver. 760—808. Shows how we are often deceived by images, ver. 
809 — 823. Proceeds to prove that the organs of the body were produced 
before the use of them was discovered ; that they were not dengned for 
use, but that it was found out, after they were formed, that they cotUd be 
used, ver. 824—878. That motion in animals arose firom the motions of 
images, ver. 879—908. He then speaks more fiiUy of sleep and dreams, 
of which he suggests various causes, ver. 908—1035. Of love, desire, and 
their influence, ver. 1036— 1283. 

146 LUCRETIUS. b. iy. 1—26. 

I RANGE over the trackless regions^ of the Muses, trodden 
before by the foot of no poeU It delights me to approach the 
untasted fountains, and to drink; and it transports me to 
pluck the fresh flowers, and to obtain a distinguished chaplet 
for my head from those groves whence the Muses have hitherto 
veiled the temples of no one. In the first place, because I 
give instruction concerning mighty things, and proceed to free 
the mind from the closely-confining shackles of religion ; in 
the next place, because I compose such lucid verses concern- 
ing so obscure a subject, affecting every thing with the grace 
of poetry. Since such ornament^ also, seems not unjustifiable 
or without reason. But as physicians, when they attempt to 
give bitter wormwood to children, first tinge the rim round 
the cup with the sweet and yellow liquid of honey, that the 
age of childhood, as yet unsuspicious, may find the lips de- 
luded, and may in the mean time drink of the bitter juice of 
the wormwood, and, though deceived, may not be injured, but 
rather, recruited by such a process, may recover strength : so 
now I, since this argument seems, in general, too severe and 
forbidding to those by whom it has not been handled, and 
since the multitude shrink back from it, was desirous to set 
forth my chain-of-reasoning to thee, O Memmius^ in sweetly- 
speaking Pierian verse, and, as it were, to tinge it with the 
honey of the Muses ; if perchance, by such a method, I might 
detain thy attention upon my strains, until thou gainest a 
knowledge of the whole nature of things, and perceivest 
the utility of that knowledge. 

But since I have demonstrated^ of what nature the primor- 

* I range over the trackless regions, 4f^.] Ver. 1. Avia Pieridum 
peragfo loca^ &c. The first twenty-five verses of this book are taken 
from book i. 925. At the end of tne paragraph, ver. 25, 1 have given 
" utility of that knowledge,'* with Creech, who has " istiusque cogni- 
tionis utilitatem." 

' But since I have demonstrated, iscj] Ver. 2(5. Having in the 
preceding books discoursed of atoms, the generation of things from 
them, and the nature of thie soul, he now proceeds to treat of rerum 
simulacra, the images of things, which the Epicureans supposed to 
be perpetually flying off* from the surfaces of bodies. If these 
images presented themselves to us entire and undistorted, we beheld 
true representations of the objects from which they came ; if they 
w€re broken, or inverted, or mixed one with another, we then saw 
monsters, such as Centaurs or Chimaeras. See ver. 736, acq. of this 

B. IV. 27—60. LUCRETIUS. 147 

dial-atoms of all things are, and with how different figures 
distinguished they fij spontaneously^ through spcuse, actuated 
by motion from aU eternity, and in what manner all things may 
severally be produced from them ; and since I have shown 
what is the nature of the soul, and from what substances it 
derives its vigour in-its-connexion with the body, and in 
what way, being separated from t^ it returns to its original 
elements, I shall now begin to treat of another subject, which 
is of the greatest concern to these inquiries, namely, that there 
exist those shapes which we call images of things ; shapes 
which, being separated, like membranes, from the surface of 
the bodies of objects, flit hither and thither through the air ; 
and which same shapes, not only occurring to us when awake, 
startle our minds, htU also alarm us in sleep, when we often 
seem to behold strange forms and spectres of the dead, that 
frequently, when we are torpid in slumber, rouse us with 
horror : / say that these are images thrown off the bodies of 
objects, that we may not, by any possibility, suppose that souls 
escape from Acheron, or that shades of the dead hover about 
among the living, or that any portion of us can be left after 
death, when, after the body, and substance of the soul, have 
, been disunited, they have suffered dissolution into their re- 
spective elements. • 

I affirm, then, that thin shapes and figures of objects are 
detached from those objects ; from the surface, / mean, of 
their bodies ; shapes which are to be designated, as it were, 
their pellicle or bark, because ea>ch image bears the likeness 
and form of that object, whatsoever it be, from whose surface 
it is detached and seems to wander^ through the air, 

hook. As to the spectres of the dead* Epicurus a^d Lucretius 
supposed them to be pellicles thrown off from corpses, which were 
so tnin as <to pass through coffins and all other obstructions, and 
which, though we might not notice them amidst business and bustle, 
we became liable to perceive in solitude and retirement. It was 
such a spectre that Brutus saw before the battle of Pharsalia. 
Dreams were produced, thev thought, by means of these subtle 
images penetrating to the boay during sleep, and coming in contact 
with the soul through the surface of the body. See ver. 728, seq. 
See Diog. Laert. x. 46 ; Cic. de Fin. i. 7 : Macrob. Sat. vii. 14. Aid. 
Gell. V. 16. In ver. 30 — 32, I have rendered easet^ vigeret^ rediret^ as 
present tenses. — Lucretius had given notice that he should enter on 
this subject, in book i. 133. 

* Fly spontaneously, ^c] Ver. 28. See iii. 33. 

* Seems to wander.] Ver. 50. Chtet — vagari, Fertur, dicitiur. 

L 2 

148 LDCEETIUS. b. iv. 51-77. 

TbiB/act aaj oae, witli however dull an intellect, ma; un- 
detetand &om what follows. In the first place, since many 
bodies, among objects manifest before our eyet, send off, when 
disunited, vartout partides/nHN thar lubttance, partly diffused 
mid nbtie, as wood discharges smoke and fire heat, and partly 
more dose ^d condensed, as wbenerer grassboppers in som- 
mer lay aside their thin coats, and when calves, at their birth, 
oast the membrane ' ikim the surface of their bodies, and, like- 
wise, when the stippny snake pats off bis garment among the 
thorns, (for we frequMitly see the briers gifted with their 
spoils) : since these things, I joy, take place, a thin image may 
naturally be detached ' from bodies ; Aal it ta my, irom the 
extreme surface of bodies. For why those tubuanees which 
are mart dense, should more readify fall away and recede from 
bodies, than these t&apet which are liffht and subtle, it is 
quite impossible to teU ; especially when there are number- 
less minute partidee on the surface of objects, which may be 
thrown off in the order in which they have lain, and keep the 
outline of their figure ; and Mii m> much the more easily, as, 
being cengMratweljf few, and placed on the outmost saper- 
ficies, they are less liable to be obstructed. 

For, assuredly, we not only see many partklet discbarge 
&emselvet, and' become detached, as we said before, from the 
middle and inward partt ofbodiet,* but we o&terve also colour 
itself frequently _fiy off from their surfaces ; and this effect 
yelloW) red, and purple curtains* publicly exhibit, when, 
stretched across the vast theatres, displayed over the poles and 
beams, they fluctuate with a tremulous motion ; tm: they then 
tinge the assembly on the benches, and the whole face of the 
scene beneath, the persons of senators, matrons, and gods, and 

' Calves, St their birth, cast the membrane, fe.] Ver. ST. " The 
alanlois, formed for the purpose of containing the urine of the ftctus 
prior to its birth." Good. 

* May naturally he detached."] Ver. 61. D^etmitti. Com p. v, 83. 

» Fromthemiddleand inward parts o/iorfiej.] Ver. 71. ExaUo 
P&nitmqua. Lil«rBll]',./ri>BE ike deplA and (from) within. 

' Yellow, red, and purple curtains.] Ver. 73, lej. LiUea, rwia. 
et/errugina. " Displayed over the poke and beams," Permalotvul- 
gata trabeijiie. Malut here aignifiea a pole for siipporlinp a curtain : 

"' ■" ' ■■■ '- ', Ludi« Romanis malua in eirco instabilis ir 

irocidit "■■ " ■ 

. . ...._, ^ in thin p( 

turally send off," (ver. 83,] d, 

B. IV. 78-106. LUCRETIUS. 149 

vary them with their own colour ; and the more the walls of 
the theatre are shut in around, so much the more all these 
objects within, suffused with the hue of the curtcdnsj (the light 
of day being affected with it,) smile and look gay. When the 
cnrtainsy therefore, send off* colour from their surface, all otiher 
objects may naturally send off subtle images ; iotit is from 
the superficies that both emit. There are therefore, we must 
beHeve, certain outlines of figures, which, formed of a subtle 
texture, fly abroad, and which nevertheless cannot, at the time 
that they are separated /rom bodies, be individually discen^ 
hy the eye* 

Besides, t^all odour, smoke, vapour, and other similar sub- 
stances, fly off from bodies in a scattered manner, U is because, 
while rising from within, they are, as they issue fdrth, broken 
by winding passages ; nor are there any direct openings of 
the orifices, by which they strive, as they spring up, to fly 
out.* But, on the other hand, when a thin coat of colour 
from the surface is thrown off, there is nothing that can scat-^ 
ter it, since, being placed on the very superficies^ it lies in 
readiness to fall off unbroken. 

Moreover, whatever images appear to us in mirrors, in the 
water, and in any bright object, their substance, since they 
are distinguished by a form similar to their objects, must ne- 
cessarily consist ^ in forms thrown of^ from those objects. For 
why those grosser consistences, as smoke and vapour, which 
many bodies obviously send forth from, their substance, should 
more readily detach themselves, and recede from objects, than 
those which are thin and subde^ there is no possibility of tell- 
ing. There are, therefore, we may beUeve, thin images of 
the forms of bodies, and unlike those of, a grosser nature, which, 
though no one can see them severally throvm off, yet, being 
thrown off, and repelled by successive and frequent reflec- 
tions' from the flat surface of mirrors, strike the eye, and pro- . 

* By which they strive to fly out] Ver. 92. Qu^ cofrUentkmt 

ixire coortm. In f'orbiger q*M is misprinted for ^u^. 

* Their substance — must necessarily consist.] Ver. 99. Esse eorum. 
Esse is xnit substantively for ouffia, or essence. 

' Repelled by successive and frequent reflections.] Ver. 105. 

Assiduo crebroque repulsu 
Rejects, reddunt speculorum ex sequote yisiun. 

'* The representation of himself, which a man sees in a glass, is not, 

150 - LUCRETIUS. b. i v. 107— 125. 

duce sight. Nor can shapes of bodies be imagined, by any 
other means, to be so accurately preserved, as that forms cor- 
responding to each should be represented to us. < 

Give me now your attention further, and learn of how 
subtle a nature or substance an image consists. You may 
imagine this subtlety^ in the first place, inasmuch as the pri- 
mordial-atoms of ^A^« are so far below our senses, and so ex- 
ceedingly less than those smallest objects which our eyes first 
begin to be unable to distinguish.^ But that I may make 
plain to you how exquisitely diminutive the primary-particles 
of all bodies are, listen to what I shall state in these few ob- 

First, there are some animals so exceedingly minute, that 
the third part of them can by no possibility be seen.^ Of 
what size can any internal part of these crecUures be imagined 
to be ? What is the globule of their heart, or of their eye ? 
What are their members and joints ? How extremely dimi- 
nutive must they be ! What, moreover, is the size of the 
several atoms of which their vital-principle, and the sub- 
stance of their soul, must necessarily consist ? Do you not 
conceive how subtle and minute they must be ? 

Contemplate, besides, whatever bodies exhale from their 
substance a powerful odour, as panacea, bitter wormwood, 
strong-smelling southernwood, and pungent centaury, any one 
of which if you shall happen to shake gently, and imagine 
how small must be the atoms that affect your nostrils, you may 

opinion of Epicurus, one^ but many : produced hy a quick 
don of images passing ofi^nrom the body, and striking against 

in the 


the glass, whence^they are reflected to the eye ; the rapidity of the 

process making the many appear as one." Lambintu, This will be 

seen more clearly as the reader proceeds. Epicurus's doctrine of 

images is one of the weakest points in his philosophy. 

^ Our ejres first begin to be unable to distinguish.] Ver. 112. 
QtuB primum oculi captant non posse ttteri. He means tne extreme 
points, summa cacuminaf of small objects, which our sight cannot 
command. See i. 698. — "Make plain to you," (ver. 113,) con- 
formem; a word of Wakefield's selection, from two or three manu- 
scripts, for conjirmem, the reading of Lambinus. Wakefield inter- 
prets it, to make manifest, as if by forms. 

^ That the third part of them can hy no possibility be seen.] 
Ver. 116. Ut horum Tertia pars nulld possit ratione videri. " That 
is, any considerable part, as in Rev. viii. 7, The third part of the 
trees, the sea, &c." Priigerust 

B. IV. 126—148. LUCRETIUS. > 151 

then the, better understand that numeroud images of bodied, 
composed qfstHl smaller atofns, may flit about in various ways^ 
without force or weighty and without impression on the senses.^ 
[Of which bodies how fine a part the image is, there is no 
one can express, or give the due estimation of it in words.] 

But lest perchance you should think, that those images of 
objects alone wander abroad, which fly oflf from the objects 
themselvesy there are others^ also, which are produced spon- 
taneously, and are combined of themselves in this sky which 
is called the air ; those images, namely , which, fashioned in 
various shapes, are borne along on high, and, being soft in 
their contexture, never cease to change their figure, and to 
metamorphose themselves into the outlines of forms of every 
sort* This we sometimes see the clouds do, when we observe 
them thicken on high, and dim the serene face of the firma- 
ment, yet soothing the air, as it were, with their motion ; ^ as, 
frequently, the faces of giants seem to ^j over the heaven, 
and to spread their shadows far and wide ; sometimes huge 
mountains, and rocks apparently torn from those mountains, 
seem now to go before the sun, now to follow close behind 
him; then soTne monster seems to drag forward, and to ob-' 
trade, other stormy clouds. 

Understand, now, with how easy and expeditious a process 
these images are formed, and perpetually flow off, and pass 
away from objects. For there is always on the surface of 
bodies something redundant, which they may throw ofl^; and 
this redundancy, or outside form, when it comes in contact 
with certain objects, as, for example, a thin garment,^ passes 

^ Without force — and without impression on the senses.] Ver. 
127. NuUd vi, caasctque 8ensu» " Which move with so small a force 
that they cannot affect the organs or senses." Creech, Between 
ver. 125 (ending with eiebiSf ^ich is Lambinus's conjecture for 
dw^bus'^ and ver. 126, Lachmann very reasonably considers that 
there is a hiattta. The passage in crotchets is thought spurious by 

• Soothing the air — with their motion.1 Ver. 139. Aera rmUcentee 
motu. y B^ the variety of their shapes exhilarating the air^s it were, 
and difinsing over it a certain pleasantness.*' Wakejield, The reader 
will remember the passage in Hamlet, " Very like a whale/' &c. 

' As, for example, a thin garment.] Ver. H8. Ut in primia veatem. 
"As ^^17, avTuta, jam, ^<;. This is worthy of notice, for it means 
exempli gratiA.'* Faber, A little below (ver. 152) in primia oc- 
curs again ; where, however, I have taken it, with Creech, in the 
sense of prtecipui. 

152 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 149—180. 

through it ; but^ when it strikes against rough rocks, or the 
substanoe of wood, is at once broken into fragments, so that 
it can present no image. But when objects wMch are bright 
and dense have stood in its waj, as, above all, a looking-glass, 
neither of these effects happens ; for neither can images pass 
through it like a garment, nor be divided into parts before the 
smoo& surface has succeeded in securing its entireness.^ From 
this cause it happens that images abound among us; and, 
however suddenly, at anj time whatsoever, you may place a 
mirror opposite an object^ the image ofii appears ; so that you 
may conclude that filmy textures of objects, and subtle shapes, 
are perpetually flying off from the superficies of every body. 
Many images are therefore carried off in a short space, so that. 
the production of these forms must naturally be thought rapid.^ 
And as the sun must send forth many rays in a short time, 
that all places may be constantly full of light, so, by a like 
process, many different images of bodies must necessarily be 
carried off from those bodies in a moment of time in all direc- 
tions round about ; since, whatsoever way we turn the mirror 
to the figures of (Ejects, the objects are represented in it of a 
correspondent form and colour. 

Besides, at times when the state of the sky has just before 
been clear as possible, it becomes, with extreme suddenness, so 
frightfully overclouded on all sides, that you might think that 
all the darkness had left Acheron, and filled the immense vault 
of heaven ; eo formidably^ when such a gloomy night of clouds 
has arisen, does the face of black terror hang over the earth 
from above. Of which clouds^ thin as they are, how thin a 
portion their image must be, as viewed in a reflecting surface^ 
there is no man that can express, or give in words such an 
estimation as would be conceivable. 

And now attend further^ and with how swift a motion 
images are borne along, and what activity is given to them as 
they swim across the air, so that, to whatever part they move, 
each with its several tendency, a short time only is spent in a 

^ Has succeeded in securing its entireness.] Ver. 154. Meminit 
Uevor praatare adlutem. More literally, haa remember^ to secttre its 
safety. As to praatare, corny , iii. 215, 221. 

^ So that the production of these forms must naturally be thought 
rapid.] Ver. 161. ' Ut meriib celer his rebus duxUur origo. " May jusUy 
be called rapid." This, like the lines on the activity of thought, (iii. 
183,) seems very tame. 


». IV. 181-202. LUCEETIUS. 153 

long distance, I will proceed to explain, though rather, if pos^ 
sUflCf in agreeably-sounding verses than in many ; ^ as the short 
melody of the swan is better than the croak of cranes swept- 
afar among the ethereal clouds driven hy the south-wind. 

In the first place, we have constant means of observing 
how swift in their motion those bodies which are light, and 
which consist of minute particles, are. Of which kind is the 
son's light, and his heat ; for this reason, that they are com- 
posed of minute primary-atoms, which are, as it were, struck 
out, and make no difficulty to pass through the interval of 
air, driven on by a succeeding stroke ; for the place of light 
passing on is instantly supplied by other light, and brightness 
is, as it were, propelled by successive brightness.^ Wherefore 
images must, in like manner, be able to pass through an inex- 
pressible space in a moment of time ; in the first place, because 
there is always some slight impulse' at a distance behind them, 
which may carry them forward and urge them on ; and se- 
condly, because they are sent forth formed with so subtle a 
texture, that they<»n easily penetrate any substances what- 
soever, and, as it were, flow through the intervening-body 
of air. 

Besides, if those atoms or bodies which are sent forth from 
within,^ and from the central portion of thenij as the light and 
heat of the sun, are seen, gliding over the whole space of the 

* In affreeably-sounding verses than in many.] Ver. 181. Suavi- 
dicta potiut gudm mvUia, "Having regard to tne nature of the sub- 
ject," says Wakefield, "which has been so treated in prose as to 
ofiend and weary the reader." The eroak of cranes among the ekmde 
seems to have been a proverbial expression : see Lambinus, who 
quotes a Greek epi^am of Antipater Sidonius in Erinnam, containing 
a similar observation on the cnattering of daws. The lines occur 
again, ver. 910, acq, 

* Successive brightness.] Ver. 191. Proteh fidgwre, "Protelum" 
is here used as an adjective ; in the only other place where Lucre- 
tius has it, (ii. 532,) it is a substantive. It is of uncertain deriva- 
tion ; Vossius makes it from pro and tehtm, indicating a succession 
like that of a number of darts thrown forward one after another. 

» Some slight impulse, S^,] Ver. 194. Parvola causa Estproculi 
iergo, Creecn interprets causa hysuffidens vis, but would have jnit- 
vola in the ace. case, agreeing with simuiacra understood. In this 
notion I do hot think hnn right. Faber would read pbtrima causa. 
What cause or force impels images, or how it is produced, Lucretius 
does not explain. 

* Forth from within.] Ver. 200. PenOus—ex alio. Comp. ver. 71. 

154 LUCEETItJS. B. IV. 503-227. 

air, to diffuse themselves abroad in a moment of time, and to 
fly through sea and land, and to flood the heaven which is 
above, where they are borne along with such rapid lightness, 
what shall we say of those particles, then, which lie ready on 
the outmost surface of bodies ? Do you tio^ conceive how much 
quicker and farther they ought to go, when they are once 
thrown off, and when nothing deisms their progress ? And do 
you not feel certain that they should fly over a much greater 
distance of space in the same time in which the light of the 
sun traverses the heaven ? 

This also seems to be an eminently fitting example to show 
with how swift a motion the images of things are borne along, 
namely, that as soon as a bright-surface of water is placed 
in the open air, when the clear heaven is shining with stars, 
the radiant constellations of the sky immediately correspond 
in the water* Do you now understand, then, in what a 
moment of time this image descends from the regions of the 
air to the regions of the earth? From which cause, however 
wonderful,^ you must necessarily admit, again and again, the 
existence of bodies which strike the eyes and excite our vision, 
and flow with a perpetual issue from certain substances ; as 
cold from rivers, heat from the sun, spray from the waves of 
the sea, which is the consumer of walls round the shore ; nor 
do various voices cease to fly through the air ;^ moreover the 
moisture, so to speak, of a salt taste, comes often into the 
mouth, when we are walking near the sea ; and, again, when 
we look at diluted wormwood being mixed, a bitterness af- 
fects our palate. So evidently a certain substance is borne 
rapidly away from all bodies, and is dispersed in all directions 

* From which cause, hxiwever wonderful, ^c.] Ver. 217. 

Qu& re etiam atque etiam mir& fateare necesse est 
Corpora, quae feriant oculos visumque lacessant, 
Perpetuoque fluant certis ah rebus obortu — 

This is Wakefield's reading, which Forhiger retains. Lambimu and 
Creech, instead of mird, have mitti; whicn verb, or one similar, is 
sadly wanted. But' Wakefield had the hardihood to say that it 
mignt well be dispensed with, and that we may sa,yfateri corpora as 
fateri peccata ! 

* Voices cease to fly through the air.] Ver. 222. Nee varies cesaant 
voces volitareper auras, Faber observes that this is said in reference 
to the cases of those who have thought they heard words spoken 
when nobody was near them. 

fe. IV. 228—255. LTJCEETITJS. 155 

around ; nor is there any delay or interruption allowed to 
the efflux ; since we perpetually perceive it with our senses, 
and may see all objects at all times, and smell them, and hear 
them sound. 

Further, since any figure felt with the hands in the dark is 
known to be the same which is seen by day and in clear light, 
it necessarily follows that touch and sight are excited by a 
like cause. If, therefore, we handle a square object, and that 
object affects m% as a square in the dark, what object, in the 
light, will be able to answer to the shape of it, except its 
quadrangular image ? For which reason the faculty of dis- 
cerning forms is found to depend upon images, and it seems 
that no object can be distinguished by the eye without them. 

Now those images of objects, of which I am speaking, are 
carried in every Erection, and are thrown off so as to be dis- 
tributed on all sides ; but, because we can see only with our 
eyes, it therefore happens, that whatsoever way we turn our 
sight, all objects on that quarter strike on it with their shape 
and colour. And the image causes us to see, and gives-us- 
means to distinguish, how far each object is distant from us. 
For when it is sent forth /rom the object, it immediately strikes 
and drives forward that portion of air, which is situated be- 
tween itself and our eyes ; and the whole of that air thus 
glides through our eyes,^ and, as it were, brushes the pupils 
gently, and so passes on. Hence it comes to pass that we see 
how far distant each object is ; and the more air is driven before 
the image, and the longer the stream of it that brushes through 
our eyes, the farther each object seems to be removed /rom us. 
These efiects, you may be sure, are produced with an ex- 

* The whole of that air thus glides through our eyes. J Ver. 249. 

Isque ita per nostras acies, perlabitur omnis, 
£t quasi pertergit pupillas, atque ita transit. 

" Per oculos nostros perlabitur." Creech. " Permanat per nostras 
pupillas oculorum." Ed, DeJph, ** Se faisant passage le Ions des 
prunelles." Coutures, This is very well, but what shall we make of 
atqtie ita transit f If it enters the pupils of the eyes, to what part does 
it pass off? Good makes it very conveniently, " Strikes on the sen- 
tient pupil, and retires." But this was suggested. I suppose, by 
Wakefield's note^ vrho^ finding a difiiculty, proposed to read aub in- 
stead of per. This notion about the stream of air making known the 
distance, is repeated in ver. 280, »eg. 

156 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 256— 284. 

quisitely rapid process, so that we see what the chject is, and, 
at the same time, how far it is distant. 

In these matters it is by no means to be accounted wonderful, 
whj, when those images which strike the eyes cannot be 
severally discerned, the objects themselves, from which they 
proceed «re perceived. For, in Uke manner, when the wind 
Strikes upon us by degrees, and when sharp cold spreads over 
us, we are not wont to perceive each first and siiccessive par- 
ticle of that wind and cold, but rather the whole together ; 
and we then perceive, as it were, blows infiicted upon our 
body, as if some substance were striking us, and producing in 
our frame a sense of its force which is without us, , Besides, 
when we strike a stone with our finger, we touch the very ex- 
treme superficies of the stone, and the outside colour ; and yet 
we do not ^el that colour with our touch, but rather perceive 
the hardness of the stone deeply seated within its substance. 

And now learn in addition to this, why the image of an 
object in a mirror is seen beyond the mirror ; for certainly it 
seems extremely remote from us. ^ The case is the same as 
with those objects which are plainly seen'out of doors, when a 
door, standing open, affords an unobstructed prospect through 
it, and allows many objects out of the house to be contem- 
plated. For this view, also, as well as that in the mirror, 
takes place, if I may so express it, with a double and twofold 
tide of air. For first is perceived the air on this side of the 
door-posts; then follow the door-posts themselves on the 
right hand and on the left ; next the external light strikes 
the eyes, and the second portion ofm, and aU those objects 
which are clearly seen abroad. So, when the image from the 
glass has first thrown itself forward, and whilst it is coming 
to our sight, it strikes and drives forward the air which is 
situate between itself and the eyes, and causes us to per- 
ceive all this air before we see the mirror ; but when we 
have looked on the mirror itself, ^ the image which is thrown 

* But when we have looked on the mirror itself, 4^.] Ver. 284. 

Sed^ ubi in speculum quoque sensimus ipsum, 

Continuo h, nobis in eum, quae fertur, imago 

Thus stands the passage in Wakefield and Forhiger. Wakefield 
would join vMensimtu^ and this is perhaps the best thing that can he 
done. As for the eum in the next line, he makes it agree with <ura. 

B. IV. 286-306. LTJCBBTIUa . 157 

off from us, reaches it, and, being reflected, returns to our 
eyes, and 90y propelling another porHon of air before it, rolls 
it aUy and causes us to perceive this air before we see itself; 
and on that account seems to be distant, and to be so much 
removed from or behind the mirror. For which reason, again 
and again 1 say^ it is by no means right for those who study 
1ke$e matters, to wonder at the effects which attribute vision 
from the surface of mirrors to the influence of two portions of 
air ; since the appearance is produced by means of both. 

Now that which is in reality the right side ^ of our bodies, is 
made to appear on the left side in mirrors, for this reason, 
that when the image, which proceeds from our person, strikes 
upon the plane of the mirror, it is not reflected without a 
change, but, being turned back, it is so struck ontqf its former 
state, as would be the case with a mask of plaster, i^ before it 
were dry, any one should dash its face against a pillar or a 
beam ; when, if it should preserve, at that instant, its true 
figure as in front, or as when its front was presented to you, 
and should exhibit itself, or its exact features, driven back 
through the hinder part of the head, it will happen that the 
eye which before was the right, is now become the left, and 
that which was on the lef^ correspondently, is made the 

It is contrived, also, that an image may be transmitted from 
mirror to mirror ; so that five, and even six images, have been 
often produced. For whatsoever (deject in a house shall be 
hid, as lying back in the interior part of it, it will yet be pos- 
sible that every such object, however removed out of sight by 
crooked turnings and recesses, may, (being drawn out, by 

First comes to us the inuujfo specidi, propelling a certain portion of 
air ; then comes our own image from the speculum, striking upon 
that same air. But Lachmann judiciously changes in eum into ite- 
rum, and omits the tn in the preceding verse. At tne end of the para- 
graph **by means of both" answers XxiutraquB, which Wakefield, from 
Kon. Marc. ii. 882, says is for vtriinque or ynJtroqM; other eaitions 
have ittroqw. It is well for us, as Wakefield observes, that we are 
only the interpreters of Lucretius 's language, and not the patrons 
of his philosophy. 

^ Now that which is in reality the right side, i^.] Ver. 293. The 
reader of this paragpraph in Forbiger, will observe that ksvd^ ver. 
294, is for in Uevd; other editions have in — Recta, ver. 296, is the 
participle of rego, — Oculot, ver. 301, is for ocuhu. 

158 LUCRETIUS.- B. IV. 307-324. 

means of several glasses, through the winding passages,) be 
seen ,to be in the building. So exactly is an image reflected 
from glass to glass ; and, when it has been presented to tis on- 
the-left-hand, it happens afterwards that it is produced on-the- 
right ; and thence it returns again, and changes to the same 
position as before. 

Moreover, whatever small sides or plates there are of glasses, 
formed with a round flexure similar to that of our own side, 
they, on that account, reflect to us images in the right posi^ 
turn; ^ either because the image is transferred from glass to 
glass, and thence, being twice reflected, flies forward to us ; 
or, again, because the image, when it comes forth, is turned 
about, inasmuch as the curved shape of the glass causes it to 
wheel itself round to us. 

Further, you would suppose that our images in a mirror 
advance together with us, ^d place their foot tjoith ours, and 
imitate our gesture ; which appearance happens from this cause, 
that from whatever part of the mirror you recede, the images, 
after that moment, cannot be reflected from that part, since 
nature obliges all images to be reflected from mirrors, (as well 
as to fly off from objects,) according to the corresponding ges- 
tures of the person whom they represent^ 

^ They, on that account, reflect to us images in the right position,'^ 
Ver. 314. Dextera ed propter nobis simulacra remittunt, I have trans- 
lated dextera according to the notion of Lambinus : quorum dextrm 
partes nostris dextris respondent. But what sort of glasses are intend- 
ed, or in what position we must conceive them placed, is very far 
from clear. I was inclined at one time to thii^k that the columnar- 
concave mirror was meant, so that de speculo in speculum, ver. 315, 
might signify from side to side of the glass; and there is nothing in 
the text to contradict this supposition, unless it be said that de spe- 
culo in speculum will not beisir this signification; but this I may be 
allowed to doubt. Lambinus, however, explains it, teres speculifigura 
instar columna, evidently thinking the shape convex. Other com- 
mentators say nothing to the purpose. The notion of concavity 
seems rather to be favoured by ver. 318. Flexa Jigura docet speculi 
convortier ad nos : sc, imaginem. And Gassendi, De Physiologid Epicuri, 
vol. ii. p. 260, thinks that concave mirrors were meant 

- According to the corresponding gestures of the person whom they 
represent, ~\ Ver. 324. Ad tequos reddita Jlexus. Creech foolishly in- 
terprets ad (Bquosjlexus by " ad aequales angulos." Lucretius had no 
thought of equal angles. Good rightly understands the passage to 
signify that the reflected image "must bear each variance of the 
parent form ; " and Coutures, that the reflexion must be made " per 
regale opposition des surfaces." 

B. IV. 325—364, LUCRETIUS, 159 

Bright objects, also, the eyes avoid, and shrink from beholds 
ing. The sun even blinds you, if you persist to direct your 
eyes against it ; inasmuch as the power of it is great ; and 
images from it are borne down impetuously from on high 
through the clear air, and strike the eyes forcibly, disturbing 
and causing pain in their sockets.^ Moreover, whatever splen^ 
dour is strong, often bums the eyes, because it contains many 
seeds of fire, which produce pain in the organs-of-sight by 
penetrating into them. 

Besides, whatever objects jaundiced persons^ look upon, be- 
come in their sight yellow like themselves ; because many 
atoms of yellow colour flow off from their bodies, meeting arid, 
tinging the images of objects ; and many of the same atoms 
are moreover mixed in their eyes, which, by their contagion, 
paint all things with lurid hues. 

But when we are in the dark, we see, from the darkness, 
objects that are in the light, because when the black air of the 
darkness, being nearer to tis, has entered the open eyes first, 
and taken possession of them, the bright white air immediately 
follows, which, as it were, clears them, and dispels the black 
shades of the other air ; for this lucid air is by many degrees 
more active, and far more subtle and powerful : which, as soon 
as it has filled with light, and laid open, the passages of the 
eyes, which the dark air had previously stopped, plain images 
of objects immediately follow and strike upon the eyes, so that 
we see those objects which are situated in the light. This, on 
the other hand, we ciinnot do, when we looh from the light to- 
wards objects in the dark, because the thicker air of darkness 
follows behind the light air; which thicher air fills the pores, 
and stops up the passages of sight, so that the images of any 
things whatsoever, being involved in it, cannot be moved 
forward into the eyes.^ 

And when we behold the square towers of a city a long 

* Their sockets.] Ver. 329. Composituras, " Tic ap/io*yac." Lam- 
bintts. The settings of the eyes. 

* Besides, whatever objects jaundiced persons, 4r^.] Ver. 334. 
QiuBcunqtie tuentur Arquati, " The explanation is extremely apposite, 
and, upon the Epicurean system of effluvia, highly ingenious." 

* Images — cannot be nvoved /onrarrf into the eyeaj] Ver.^ 353. 
Ne simtdacra Possint ullarum rerum contecta moveri. My translation is 
based upon Wakefield's interpretation. 

160 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 356—383. 

way ofP, it happens, on account of the distance^ that thej often 
seem round, because every angle, hemg afar off, is seen as ob- 
tuse, or rather is not seen at all; the impulse of its image dies 
away, and the force of it does not reach to our eyes ; since, 
while the images of it are borne through a large body of air, 
the air, by frequent percussions upon them, obliges that ybrce 
to become-inefiectiye. Hence it comes to pass, that when every 
angle has escaped our vision at the same time, the constructed 
stones are seen as if fashioned to a round ; ^ not, however, like 
round objects which are immediately before us, and which are 
exactly circular, but they appear, as it were, nearly, after a 
shadowy fashion, resembling them. 

Our shadow likewise seems to us to move in the sun, and to 
follow our footsteps, and to imitate our gesture ; (if you can 
fancy air, devoid of light, to go forwards, following the move- 
ments and gesture of men ; for that which we are accustomed to 
call shadow can be nothing else but air deprived of light ;) evi- 
dently because the ground, in cert^ spots successively, is 
excluded from the radiance, wherever we, as we go, obstruct 
it; and that part of it, which we have left, is again covered 
with Ught, From this cause it happens, that what was the 
shadow of our body, seems to be still the same, and to have 
followed exactly-opposite us. For fresh illuminations of rays 
are perpetually pouring themselves forth ; and the first dis- 
appear CLS quickly as wool vanishes, if applied to a fiame.^ By 
this means the ground is both easily deprived of light, and again 
covered with it, and discharges from itself the black shadows. 

Nor yet in this case do w« allow that the eyes are at all de- 
ceived ; for it is their business only to observe in whatever 
place there may be light or shade ; but whether the light is 
the same or not, and whether the same shadow, which was 

* As if /awAtbn«ito around.] Ver. 362. Quasi td ad tomum, Tomus 
is generally considered to mean a turner* t wheels or lathe, or turning 
iron, but seems here to' si^ify the figure formed by such instru- 
ment. Lambinus reads quasi tomata ut — , and considers that ad tor- 
num came into the text from a gloss. 

* As wool vanishes, if applied to a flame.] Ver. 377. Quasi in ignem 
lana irahaiur, " Nothing could be imagined more applicable and ex- 
pressive than this simile ; for whab is consumed quicker than the fine 
filaments of woolj when they are set on fire ? " Wakejleld. Good re- 
fers to Isaiah, xlii. 17, "Theyare consumed as tow; " and to Cow- 
per's Task, ii. 9, ** As the flax That falls asunder at the touch of fire." 

B. IV. 384—419. XUCRETIUS. 161 

here, passes thither, or rather, as we said before, a new one 
is constancy produced, — this the judgment of the mind only 
must determine ; for the eyes cannot know the nature of 
things ; and therefore you must not impute to the eyes that 
which may he the fiiult of the understanding. 

A ship, in which we sail, is canded forward, when it seems 
to stand still ; and that which remains stationary, is imagined 
to go by t» ; and the hills and plains, past which we row our 
vessel, or fly with sails, seem to flee away astern. 

All the stars seem to be at rest, oa being fixed to the vaults 
of the sky ; and yet all are in perpetual motion ; for when, 
after rising, they have traversed the heaven with their shining 
orbs, they return to their distant places-of-setting. And the 
sun and the moon, in like manner, seem to remain stationary ; 
bodies which observation itself shows to be carried forwards. 

And mountains rising up, at a distance, from the middle 
of the sea, between which a free passage for ships is open, 
yet appear without separation^ so that one vast island seems to 
be formed from the two united. 

It likewise happens that to children, after ceasing to whirl 
themselves about, the rooms seem to turn, and the pillars to 
run round, so that they can hardly believe that the whole 
building is not threatening to fall upon them. 

And when nature begins to raise on high the beams of the 
sun, red with tremulous fires, and to exalt them above the 
hiUs, the hills over which the sun then appears to be, himself 
apparently touching them close, (glowing with his own beams,) 
are scarcely distant from us two thousand flights of an arrow, 
often even scarcely ^yq hundred casts of a dart ; yet between 
them and the sun, which seems in contact with thern^ lie broad 
expanses of sea, stretched out under vast regions of sky ; and 
many thousand miles of land also intervene, which various 
nations of men, and tribes of wild beasts, occupy and overrun. 
And, to mention another ocular delusion, a puddle of water, 
not deeper than a finger, which settles among the stones in 
the paved streets, affords, apparently, a prospect downwards 
under the earth, to a depth as great ^ as the height to which 
the lofty arch of heaven extends above the earth ; so that you 
seem to look down upon the clouds and to see a heaven be- 

» To a depth as great.] Ver. 417. Impete tanto. " Id est tant& at- 
titudine." Lambintis, 

J 62 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 420-^7. 

neathy and to behold, by a surprising effect, the celestial bodies 
buried in the sky under ground. 

Moreover, when a spirited courser sticks fast with us in the 
middle of a river, and we l©ok down into the swiftly-flowing 
water of the stream, a force seems to be carrying the body of 
the horse, though standing still, in a contrary direction to the 
current^ and to drive it rapidly up the river ; and, whitherso- 
ever we turn our eyes, all objects appear to us to be carried 
along, and to flow,' in a similar manner. 

A portico, too, although it be of equal dimensions through- 
out, and standing supported with equal columns from-end-to- 
end, yet, when it is viewed from the extremity through its 
whole length, contracts gradually, as it were, to the apex of a 
tapering cone, joining the roof to the floor, and all the right- 
hand parts to the left, until it has narrowed-itself to the in* 
distinct point of the cone. 

To sailors at sea it occurs that the sun, having risen from 
the waves, seems also to set, and bury its light, in the waves ; 
as, in their situation, they behold nothing else but water and 
sky; a remark which I make, that you may not lightly sup- 
pose that the senses are altogether deceived. 

But to those ignorant of the sea,^ ships in the harbour often 
appear to strive, disabled in their equipments, against the 
broken waves ; for though whatever part of the oars is raised 
above the water of the sea, is straight, and the part of ih^ helm 
above the water is straight, the parts which go down, and are 
sunk in the water, seem all, as ^broken, to be turned and in- 
verted, sloping upwards, and, thtLS bent back, to float almost 
up to the surface of the water. 

And when the winds, in the night time, carry light vapours 
athwart the sky, the bright constellations seem then to glide 
against the clouds, and to pass along on high in a far different 
direction than that in which they are really borne.^ 

* Altogether deceived.] Ver. 436. Labefactari undigue, 

* But to those ignorant of the sea, S^c] Ver. 437. 

At maris ignaris in portu clauda videntur 
Navigia aplustris, fractas obnitier undas. 

" Aplmtria are ornaments of ships ; but the word, in this passage, 
signifies all parts of the vessel that rise above the water, as is shown 
by what follows." Creech. See ii. 555, The lines are not very satisfac- 
tory. Lambinus reads aplwtris JractiSf which makes better sense. 
^ Really borne.] Ver. 44-7. Ratione feruntur, *AXfi^i!tQ,6vr(iiQ, Fdber, 

B. IV. 448-474, LUCRETIUS. 163 

But if by chance the hand, applied to one eye, presses it 
underneath, it happens, by some impression on the sense, that 
all things, at which we look, seem to become double as we 
gaze on them ; two lights in the lamps appear blossoming with 
lames ; the twin furniture seems to be doubled throughout the 
house ; and the faces of the people seem double, and their 
persons double. 

Moreover, when sleep has bound our limbs in agreeable re- 
pose, and the whole body lies in profound rest ; yet, at that 
very time, our limbs appear to be awake and to move them- 
selves, and we imagine that, in the thick darkness of night, 
we see the sun, and the light of day ; and, though in a con- 
fined place, we seem to change our position with respect to the 
heaven, the sea, rivers, and mountedus, and to cross over plains 
on foot, and to hear sounds, though the unbroken silence of 
night reigns around us, and to utter words, though our tongue3 
remain still. 

Other things of this class, exciting our wonder, we see in 
great numbers; all which seek, as it were, to destroy the 
credit of our senses : but they strive in vain ; since the greatest 
part of these appearances deceive us only because of the 
fancies which we allow to bear upon them; so that those 
things which have not been seen by our senses, are to us as if 
seen. For nothing is more difficult than to separate certain 
from doubtful things; things which the mind, when their 
fallaciousness is discovered, straightway rejects from itself.^ 

Moreover, if any one believes that nothing is known,^ he 
himself, also, knows not whether that can be known from which 
he, forming a judgment, confesses that he knows nothing. 
Against him, therefore, I shall forbear to urge argument, who, 
of his own will, has placed himself with his face towards his 
footsteps.^ And although I should even grant that he knows 

> Things which the mind — straightway rejects from itself,] Ver. 469. 
Animtts quas ah se protinus ahdit, '* Abdit, says Wakefield, " repeUit, 
rgicitf rejects the doubtful, that it may admit the certain." Lach- 
mann^ with Lambinus and Creech, reads cA 9e acidity that is, " adopts 
from Its own fancy." 

' Moreover, if any one believes that nothing is known, ^c,"] Ver. 
470. *' These observations are directed against the Academics, who 
contend that nothing can be known and that the senses are falla- 
cious and deceitful." Lambimis, 

* Who, of his own will, has placed himself with his face towards 

M 2 

164 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 475^-489. 

this, I should still put to him the following question : when 
he has seen no truth in things previously, how he knows what 
it is to know and not to know, in contradistinction to one 
another ? What cause, / shall ask him, produced his know- 
ledge of truth and falsehood, and what power has proved to 
him that what is doubtful diiOfers from what is certain ? 

The knowledge of truth, you will £nd, is derived from the 
senses as-its-origin,^ and t/ou wUl own that the senses cannot be 
refuted. For that which, of its own power,^ can refute false 
notions by real fa4:ts, must be found of greater credit than to 
be liable to confutation. What, then, must be esteemed of 
greater credit than the senses ? Shall reasoning, arising from 
erring sense,' — reasoning, I say, which has arisen wholly from 
the senses, and which can depend on nothing else, — be of suffi- 
cient force to refute those senses f For unless these, our 
senses, are true and trust-worthy, all reasoning consequently 
becomes false and unfounded f But what, that is external to 
the senses, shall confute the senses, or wiU they disagree among 
themselves, and refute one another f Will the ears be able to 
refute the eyes ? Or wiU. the touch refute the ears ? Or will 
the taste of the mouth, moreover, refute the touch ? Will the 

his footsteps.] Ver. 473. Qtd capite ipse suo in statuit vestigia sese, 
*' The order is, Qui ipse statuit sese suo capite in vestigia : i. e. who has 
turned his head towards the footsteps which he has left behind him, 
as if about to go over the same track, and has made no progress." 

^ 'Hie knowledge of truth, you will find, is derived from the senses 
as its origin, ^(?.j Ver. 479* Invenies primis ah sens^nts esse creatam 
Notitiam veri. See i. 424. "I think nobody can in earnest," says 
Locke, '* be so sceptical as to be uncertain of the existence of those 
things whch he sees and feels. At^ least, he that can doubt so far 
will never have any controversy with me, since he can never be 
sure I say any thing contrary to his opinion." Essay, book iv. 
II, 3, 8. 

' For that which, of its own power, ^c] Ver. 481. 

Nam majore fide debet reperirier illud, 
Sponte su^ veris quod possit vincere falsa. 
It is a question what is to be understood after majore Jide. Greater 
faith than what ? The commentators give no help. I have added 
that which makes, I hope, a satisfactory sense. Epicurus called 
the senses the criteria of truth, 

* Shall reasoning, arising from erring sense, 4r^.] Ver. 484. An ab 
sensufalso ratio orta, &c. If the senses err, reasoning, which is based 
on the senses, cannot prove that they err. It could only litem lite 
resolvere. But the senses, as Lucretius proceeds to show, do not err. 

B. IV. 490—619. LUCRETIUS. 165 

nostrils confute the other senses, or will the eyes contradict 
themf It is, as I think, not so ; for to each sejtse is separately 
assigned its own faculty ; each has its own power ; and it is 
therefore necessary that what is soft, and what is cold, and 
what is hot, should seem so; and it is necessary, also, that we 
should perceive distinctly the various colours of things, and 
whatever things are connected with colours. The taste of the 
mouth, likewise, has its own power separately ; scents are pro- 
duced independently, and sounds independently of the other 
senses; and it necessarily follows, therefore, that some senses 
cannot confute others. Nor again, will they, as a bodt/y con- 
fute themselves ; for equal trust must at aU times be placed 
in every one of them. That, therefore, which, at any time 
whatsoever, has seemed true to them, is true. 

And if reasoning shall be unable to unfold the cause why 
those objects which, when close at hand, were square, have 
appeared round at a distance, yet it is heXtex for a man, being 
partially deficient in reasoning, to give explanations of each 
figure erroneously, than by any means to let slip ^ from his 
hands things that are manifest, and to destroy the first prin- 
ciples of belief, and tear up all the foundations on which life 
and safety rest. For not only would all reasoning fall to the 
ground, but life itself would at once come-to-nothing, unless 
you venture to trust your senses, and to avoid precipices,^ and 
other things of this sort which are to be shunned, and to pur^ 
sue those things which are of a contrary character. That, 
therefore, is all an empty body of words, you may be sure,* 
which is arrayed and drawn up against the senses. 

Lastly, as, in a building, if the rule is wrongly applied at 
first, if the square, being erroneously placed, deviates from the 
proper position, and if the level is in the least inexact in any 
spot, all parts-of-the-edifice are necessarily rendered faulty and 
distorted, and become ill-shaped, sloping, hanging forwards or 
backwards, and inconsistent with one another ; so that some 

* By any means to let slip.] Ver. 505. Dimittere guoqtuxm. " Glos- 
sator vetus : Quoquanit oXwc vov, iroi." Wakejield. Lambinus reads 

* To avoid precipices.] Ver. 510. PrtBcipiteaque locos tntare, 
Rupem et puteum vitare patentem : Hor. Ep. ii. 135. ** Too wise to 
walk into a well." PM>e, 

* You may he sure.] Ver. 512. Tibi. In ver. 621 I have omitted 

166 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 620-554. 

seem inclined to fall, and some actually do fall, being all made 
unsound bj false measures at the commencement. Thus, ac- 
cordingly, whatever reasoning on things has sprung from fal- 
lacious senses, must of necessity be erroneous and deceitful. 
If the senses be false^ all arguments from them must be false. 

We have already spoken of sight ; and now no difficult 
argument is left for us, to show how the other senses discern 
each its own object* 

In the first place, every sound and voice is heard, when, 
being infused into the ears, they have struck with their sub- 
stance on the sense. For we must admit that voice and sound 
are corporeal, since they can make impression on the senses. 
On this account the voice often abrades the throat, and its 
loud 0ound, as it passes forth, makes the wind-pipe rougher. 
For when the atoms of the voice (a larger body of them than 
ustuil having risen together) have proceeded to go forth from 
the mouth, the passage of the mouth, from the pores being 
411ed up, is rendered hoarse, and the voice injures the road 
by which it issues into the air. It is by no means to be doubted, 
therefore, that voices «nd words consist of corporeal particles, 
as having p6wer to cause corporeal injury* 

Nor does it escape your knowledge, also, how much sub- 
smnce perpetual speaking, protracted from the rising splen- 
dour of Aurora to the shade of black night, detracts from the 
body, and how much it wears away from the very nerves and 
strength of men, especially if it is uttered with extreme loud- 
ness. The voice, therefore, must necessarily be corporeal, 
since he who speaks much, loses, from its. effect, a portion of 
bis corporeal-substance. 

Nor do the particles of sound penetrate the ear under a 
like form, when the crooked barbarian trumpet bellows hea- 
vily with a deep murmur, and calls up a hoarse dead-sound ; 
and when swans, in the pangs of death, raise, with a mourn- 
ful voice, a liquid dirge from the tales of Helicon. 

These words and sounds, therefore, (when, being formed 
within, we expel them from our body, and send them forth 
straight by the mouth,) the active tongue, skilful-in-forming 
words, articulates ; and the shape into which the lips aro 
put, partly assists to fashion them. But asperity of the voice 
is caused by asperity of its particles, and its smoothness is also 
produced by their smoothness. 

B. IV. 655^583. LUCRETIUS. 167 

For this reason, when the distance is not great to the spot 
whence each word, having started forth, arrives at our ears, 
it happens, of necessity, that the words themselves are also 
plainly heard, and distinguished in-every-note ; for the voice 
keeps its formation, and maintains its figure. But if a greater 
space than is convenient is interposed, the words, passing 
through a large hody of air, are necessarily confused, and the 
voice, while it files through the aerial-interval, is disordered. 
It accordingly happens that you hear a sound, but cannot 
distinguish what is the meaning of the words ; ^ so confused 
and obstructed does the voice come to you. 

Besides, one word, uttered from the mouth of a crier in the 
midst of the people, often penetrates the ears of all. One 
voice, therefore, suddenly divides into many voices, since it 
distributes itself to each individual ear, stamping on t/; a« it 
were, the form and clear sound of the words. But that part 
of the several voices which does not fall on the ears them- 
selves, is lost, being carried past them, and difiused through 
the air. Some portion of it /^o, struck against solid objects, 
and rebounding like a stone,^ returns a sound, and sometimes 
mocks you with the semblance of a word. 

Which things when you consider, my good friend, yon may 
be able to render an account to yourself and others, how rocksi 
in solitary places, regularly return similar forms of words to 
those which toe utter, when we seek our companions wandering 
among the shady hills, and call them, as they are scattered 
abroad, with a loud voice. I have noticed places repeat sii 
or seven words, when you uttered only one ; for the moun- 
tains, reverberating the words spoken, repeated them so that 
they were re-echoed ' without change. 

Such places the neighbouring people protend that Satyrs and 
Nymphs inhabit $ and say that there are Fauns in them, by 

^ Cannot distinguish what is the meaning of the words.] Ver. 
562» Neque oUam Intemoscere, verborum senientia gtue sit : i. e. oUam 
aenterUiam^ qum sit, or qtuB sit oUa sententia* Lambinus^ for oUam, 
reads hilttm, 

• Rebounding like a stone.] Ver. 572. Lapis r^ta. This is 
Wakefield's reading and interpretation. But the soundness of the 
passage is very doubtful. Lachmann, following Lambinus, reads 
rars solidis adlisa locis, r^ecta sonorem, &c. 

• Repeated them so that they were re-echoed.] Ver. 501. Iterabani 
vferri, " Id est, uffre referri, ita ut referrentur." Wakefield. 

168 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 634-617. 

whose noise, and sportive play, re-echoing through the night, 
they universally affirm that the dead silence is broken, and 
that sounds of chords and sweet plaintive-notes are heard, 
which the pipe, struck with the fingers of those playing, pours 
forth around. They relate, also, that the race of husbandmen 
hear far and wide, when, frequently. Pan, shaking the piny 
garland of his half-savage head, runs over the open reeds with 
his curved lip, ceasing not to repeat^ his sylvan song. Other 
wonders and prodigies of this kind they relate, lest, perhaps, 
they should be thought to dwell in lonely places, deserted even 
by the gods ; for this reason they talk of such marvels in their 
discourse, or, perchance, are prompted by some other cause, 
as all men are too eager for ears Ma/ will listen to wonderful 

Furthei*more, it is not surprising, how, through places 
where the eyes cannot discern plain objects, through these 
«ery places voices pass, and excite the ears. We often, too, wit- 
ness a dialogue hdd between two persons in differeni apart- 
ments, with the doors closed. The cause is evidently this, that 
the voice can pass unbroken through winding pores of bodies, 
though images refuse to pass through them; for the latter are 
broken to pieces, unless they go through straight passages, 
such as those of glass, through which every image flies. 

Besides, the voice is distributed in all directions, inasmuch 
as some voices are produced from others ; for this happens 
where one voice has split itself into many, as a spark of fire, 
when it has started forth, is often wont to disperse itself into 
its own separate fires. Places, accordingly, which have been 
all shut up behind and around the specter, are filled with 
voices, and shaken with sound. But o^ybr images, they all, when 
once they have been thrown off, pass only by straight open- 
ings, for which reason no one can see objects beyond walls, 
though he may hear voices yrom beyond them. And yet this 
very voice, also, while it goes through the obstructed passages, 
is dulled, and we seem to hear a sound rather than distinct words. 

Thaifcumlty, by which* we perceive taste, the organs being 

/ Ceasing not to repeat.] Ver. 591. Ne cesaet fimdere, 
* Too eagper for ears that wiU litten to wonderful stories,'] Ver. 596. 

Avidwn nimis auricuiarum, ** Men, being eager for listeners, invent 

stories to attract them." Lambintui, 
' That faculty, by which, 4rc'.] Ver. 617. Hoc, jt4 sentimus aucum, 

B. IV. 618—640. LUCEETIUS. 169 

the tongue and the palate, requires for itself somewhat more 
argument and more explanation. 

In the first place, we perceive savour in the mouth, when 
we express it from food by mastication ; as when any one, for 
example, proceeds to press and dry with his hand a sponge full 
of water. What we express, is then distributed through all the 
ducts of the palate, and the tortuous pores of the soft tongue.^ 
By this means, when the atoms of the juice flowing out are 
smooth, they touch the sense agreeably, and affect all parts^ 
around the humid exuding regions of the tongue, with plea- 
sure. But, on the other hand, as atoms are severally more 
endowed with roughness, so much the more, issuing forth in 
a body,^ they sting and lacerate the sense. 

Moreover, pleasure experienced from the taste of food is 
limited by the extent of the palate ; as, when the juice has 
descended downwards through the throat, there is no enjoy- 
ment while it is all being distributed through the members ; 
nor is it of any consequence with what food the body is 
nourished, so that you be but able to disperse what you take, 
when digested, through the organs, and preserve the humec- 
tant^ tenor and cuition of the stomach. 

I wiU now explain, (in order that we may understand this 
point,) how it is that different food is allotted to different ant- 
mals, or why that which is sour and bitter to some, may yet 
seem to others extremely sweet. And so great is the differ- 
ence and variety in these matters, that that which to some is 
food, to others is rank poison. Thus it happens that a ser- 
pent, which is touched with human saliva,^ perishes, and even 

lingua atgue pcUatum, Pltuctdum habent in ae rtUionia, &c. The hoc is 
Wakefield's reading, and makes the passage nonsense. Lambinus 
reads Hoc queia, and Lachmann gives Nee gt4, Wakefield interprets 
his hoe by htsc res, and I have endeavoured to make the best of that 
which is bad. 

* Soft tongue.] Ver. 623. JRara lingua. Of a spongy consistence, 
its atoms not being closely combined. 

' Issuing forth in a body.] Ver. 627. Coorta, 

' Humectant.] Ver. 634. Stomachi humectum aervare tenorem, •* By 
kumectus tenor stomachi he means that copious and constant supply 
of saliva and juices, which sufiices to digest the food." Bavercamp, 

* A serpent, which is touched with human^ saliva, igc,]^ Ver. 640. 
Serpens hominis quce tacta salivis^ Disperit, This was a notion among 
the ancients. Lambinus refers to Plin. N. H. vii. 2 ; and it is also 
to be found in Aristotle and Galen. 

^^0 LUCKEnUS* B. IV. 641-676. 

ccKmmitB miinde by biting himself. Besides, hellebore id 
atroiig poieon to us, but increases the fat of goats and quails. 

That you may understand by what means this happens, it 
becomes you in the first place to call to mind what we have 
often said before, that in bodies are contained many seminal- 
atoms, mingled in many ways. Moreover, as all living crea- 
tures, which take food, are dissimilar externally, and as the 
extreme outline of their limbs restricts them variously accord- 
ing to their kinds, so th^y likewise consist of different seminal- 
particles, and vary in the figure of their elements. Further, 
when the seminal-particles differ, their intervals and passages, 
which we call pores, in all the limbs, and in the mouth, and 
the palate itself, must likewise differ. Some of these pores, 
therefore, must be greater, and some less ; some animals must 
have triangular pores, some square ; m2LViy pores must be round, 
and some polygonal, varied in several ways. For as the na- 
ture of the shapes of the seminal-particles^ and their motions, 
require, the figures of the pores must differ accordingly, and 
the intervals among the atoms must vary just as the combina-^ 
tion of the atoms demands. On this account, when that which 
is sweet to some animals is bitter to others, exquisitely-smooth 
atoms must enter gently and easily into the pores of the palate 
of that animal to whom it is sweet ; but, on the contrary, 
rough and jagged particles, as is evident, pierce the "mouths 
of those animals to whom the same substance is bitter. 

From these facts it is now easy to understand every parti- 
cular connected with this subject. For when in any person 
fever has arisen from the superabundance of the bile, or any 
violence of disease has been excited by any other means, his 
whole body is at once disturbed, and all the positions of the 
atoms in him are changed ; it happens that particles which 
before suited his sense of taste, are now unsuitable to it, and 
others, which, when they have penetrated the pores, produce 
a bitter sensation, are more adapted to it. For even in sweet 
bodies, as in the fiavour and substance of honey, both rougJi 
and smooth particles are mixed ; a fact which we have de- 
monstrated to you frequently before.^ 

And now give me your 2Xt&at\on further; fOr I shall show 
in what manner the approach of odour affects the nostrils. 

' Demonstrated to you frequently before.] Ver. 674. See i. 815, 
894 ; ii. 585. 

B. IV. 677--705; J-TJCRETIUS. 1*71 

First, there must necessarily exist many substances, from 
which a varied effluence of odours streams forth and evolves 
itself ; for that odours do both flow off, and are sent forth 
and dispersed abroad, we must naturally suppose. But certain 
odours, on account of the different shapes q/* their particles, are 
more suited to some animals than to others : and thus bees 
are attracted by the smell of honey in the air, however fai* 
distant, and vultures by the smell €f careaB^es ; also the keen-* 
scett of dogs, preceding ^€ir steps, leads them^ Whithersoever 
the cloven hoof of the stag has directed its course ; and the 
white goose, the preserver of the citadel of the Romans, per- 
ceives from afar the smell of a man* Thus different scent 
assigned to different animals, leads each to its own food, and 
causes it to recoil from destructive poison ; and by this means 
the tribes of beasts are preserved. 

Of this very odour, then, which excites the nostrils, it hap- 
pens that one kifid is carried farther than another ; but yet 
none of them is carried so far as sound, or as the voice; — I 
forbear to say as those airy substances which strike the 
eyes, and excite vision. For odour, wandering about, passes 
but slowly, and, being dispersed through the yielding air, 
soon gradually dies away ;^ chiefly because it is with difficulty 
evolved out of any substance from its interior. For that 
odours flow and come forth from the interior of substances, 
this consideration sufficiently indicates, that all bodies when 
broken, bruised, or split into fragments in the fire, seem to 
cast a stronger scent than when whole. It is, besides, easy to 
see that odour is composed of larger atoms than sound ; since 
it does not penetrate through stone walls, through which the 
voice and sounds constantly pass. For which reason you will 
see that it is not so easy to ascertain in what quarter a body 
that casts a scent is placed, as to^ndoutane that emits a sound. 
For the force and impulse of an odour, by moving slowly 
through the air, soon becomes chill and powerless ; nor do <Atf 

* The keen-scent of dogs, preceding t?ieir steps, leads them,'] Ver. 
683. Permissa canum vis Ducit. Gronovius, cited by Havercamp, 
interprets permissa, "aecffowco, wdtifra,** or "penetrans, long^ mis-* 
sa. " Ft* I take in the sense of faculty, keen-scent. In Virgil's odora 
canum vis, (Mn, iv. 132,) it probably means force, number , multitude. 

« Soon gradually dies away.] Ver. 694. Perit antt Paullatim. I 
have considered ant^ equivalent to soon. Creech interprets it, " an- 
tequam longum iter conficiat." 

172 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 706—740. 

atoms, the heralds of substances, come warm to the sense. 
From this cause dogs are often at fault, and have to seek for 
traces of (he scent. 

Nor does this occur, indeed, in respect to odours only, and 
in the case of tastes; but the appearances and colours of 
things, likewise, do not so agree with the senses of all men 
alike, but that some are more acrid and repulsive to the sight 
than others. - Even fierce lions cannot endure to stand against, 
and to look upon, a cock, which, as his flapping wings startle 
the night,^ is accustomed to call Aurora with his loud voice ; 
lionsy I say, will not endure him, so suddenly do they bethink 
them of flight ; the cause evidently being, that there are in the 
bodies of cocks certain particles, which, when sent forth into 
the eyes of lions, pierce the pupils, and cause sharp pain, so 
that the beasts^ hoivever fierce cannot hold out against them, 
although these same particles cannot at all hurt our eyes ; 
either because they do not penetrate, or because, if they do 
penetrate, a free outlet from the 'eye is permitted to them, so 
that they cannot in any respect hurt the organs of sight by 
remaining in them. 

And now give me your attention, and learn what substances 
affect the mind ; and understand, in a few words, whence those 
things which come into the mind proceed. 

In the first place, I assert this, that numbers of subtle 
images of things wander about in many ways in all directions; 
images which, when they meet, are easily united together in the 
air, as the spider's web, and a leaf of gold. For these images 
are far finer in their texture than those which aflect the eyes 
and excite vision ; since these penetrate through the small 
pores of the body, and excite the subtle substance of the mind 
within, and arouse the sense. 

Thus it is that we see Centaurs, and the members of Scyllas, 
and the Cerberean mouths of dogs, and the apparitions of 
those whose bouQs, after death has been passed, the earth con- 
tains. Since spectra of all kinds are every where carried 
about, which are partly such as are formed spontaneously in 
the air, partly, whatever fly off from various objects ; and 
partly, those which images, formed of figures of these two kinds, 

' As his flapping wings startle the night.] Ver. 712. Noctem ex- 
plodefUibua alia, '* His wings disturbing and driving away the night 
with sound and flapping.*' Lambinua. 

B. IV. 741— 763. LDCRBTID8. 173 

compoae.' For assuredly the image of a Centaur is not formed 
from a living Centaur, since there has been no such figure in 
life; but when the images of a horse and a man haT« come 
together by chance, they easily and quickly cohere, (as we 
said before,) because of their subtle nature and filmy texture. 

Other imoffts of this sort are produced in the same manner ; 
and since these, from their extreme lightness, are, as I have 
shown above, swiftly carried aboot, any one thin image (^ 
them all easily stimulates our mind with a single' impression ; 
for the mind is itself subtle and eminently excitable. 

That these things take place, as I state, you may easily 
learn from hence ; that inasmuch as this impression on the 
mind* is similar to that on the bodily senses, it necessarily 
follows that thai which we see with the mind, and that toMch 
die fMwith the eye, are effected by similar means. As I have 
shown, accordingly, that I perceive Uont, for example,' by 
means of images of lions, which excite the eyes ; we may nn> 
derstand that the mind is moved by images of lions in like 
manner, and by other images of oAer things,* which it sees 
mid diteerTU equally and not less than the eyes ; only we must 
observe that it Bees more subtle images. 

Nor for any other reason does this sense of -the mind be- 
come awake when sleep Jias spread itself over the limbs, 
than because these same images excite our minds, which affect 
our senses when we are corporeally awake ; to such a degree 
that we seem plainly to behold him, of whom, his life having 

' Partly, l/u>ae which itnaget, formed of figurea of these ttaa iirult, 
compoae.J Ver. 740. El gar confidiait ex honim facta fiyurit. " Et 
quaB imagines BimulBCrB, ex horum duorum figuris facta, conflci- 
unt." Wakejittd. 

' Inasmuch as this impraavm on tht mind, Je.] Ver. 7S2. 
Quatenus hoc simile est illi, quod mente videmns 
Atque oculis, simili fieri ratione necesse est. 
" Hoc simile ett itti; thii is like to that ; namely, tlie image in the 
mind to the image which «trikeB the eyes ; and therefore ptod tmnte 
videmtii el fwJocuiw nWemtM, what we sec with ilie mind, and what 
we see with the eye, must be aimilarlj produced." JVniefield, 

' For example.] Ver. 754. Forte. ''Quasi itn dicat: finge me 
aliquo OBBU leonea videre." Lamiitiiu. " Verbi EratiS." CrtecH. 

' By imagea of lions, andby other imagei of otAer (Ainff*.] Ver. 

7S7. Per simulacra leonum, celgra, gu^ videt isqur. Nee minus, aigue eeuU. 
" Per aimulacra leoDum et cetera tinnilacra, (i. e. alianun return nmu- 
lacra,) qusvidet aequfe atque oculi." Forbigtr. 

174 LlFCRErnJS. «L IT. 75t— IS4. 

been jidded op^ death and tiie earth hare alieadj taken pos- 
Mjaion. This Hatme of neccMaJty fani^s to pass ; amd ftossi 
tins cause, tint all the senses of the bod j, bein^ obstructed 
inMl 6011MI ip ly jIb^ aie at rest thiooghoiit the jevrrol 
ben^ and are nnaUe to lefiite an j fidae ttppcaramct bj vol 
fiwISL Beside^ the weanarj lies inactiTe and torpid in sleep ; 
and shows no disbelirf ta appearamea^ or bdumates that he, 
whom the mind imagines that it sees afiTe, has kx^ ago par- 
taken of death and forgetfnbiesaL 

As to what remains ^^^yr eomtidtraiiom^ it is not sarprisin^ 
that images shoold more^ and agitate their aims^ and other 
memben^ with r^^ohvil^ ; for it h^pens that matnf an image 
seems to do this in OKT sleepu TldMutoheerpUnmedukih^i^Ar 
kwing waf ; that when the first image passes ofi^ and a second 
is afterwards prodnoed in another position, the fonner then 
seems to have changed its ges tur e. Thi% doubtless, we most 
eonoeive to be done b^ a very n^id process ; so great is the 
activT^ cf imagetf and so great the number of things jfrom 
whkk dk^ proceed; and so great too is the abundance of 
atoms^ thiU it maj suffice for that which is to be peroeiTed by 
ike temtetf at an j time whatsoerer. And manj other ques- 
tions are raised on these matters, and manj points must be 
made dear bj us, if we wish to explain these suljects dis* 

In the first places it is inquired whj the mind immediatelj 
thinks of that verj thing of Jwhidi an j one has desired to 
tbink.^ Do images watch our pleasure, and, as soaa as we 
wish, does an image present itsdf to us ? If it is our desire 
io ihuUt of the sea, 61 the earth, cmt of the heaTen, of assem- 
blies of men, of a procession, of banquets, of battles, does 
nature create and prepare image$ of iSL Aewe tkimgs at our 
word? Espedallj when the minds of different men in the 
same countrjr and places think of things entirdj difierent ? 

What shall we Jogr, moreoTer, when we perceive images in 
our sleep advance brfore us in order, and move their pliant 
limbs ; when, as we observe iJkem^ thej wave with ease their 
bending anns alternatdj, and repeat gesture i^lier ^iesteFe with 
the foot corresponding to the look ? Are images, forsooth, 
inspired with tiie art of dancmy, and do thej, skiDed in ges- 

' Of which any one has desired to think.] Ver. 781. Qttod emi^ye 
libido Ven/erU. Thai is, qwod adgme Uhtent {eoyiiart). 

B, IV. 795-813. LUCEETIUS. 1 75 

twulatioTiy wander about, in order that they may make sport ybr 
us in the night time ? Or will this rather be ikhe truth, that 
we perceive that variety of motions in one artd the same por- 
tion of time ; as in that time in which one word is uttered,' 
many smaller portions of time, (which reason discovers to be 

in itj) are contained ? From this cause it happens, that 

at any time whatsoever, any images are ready at hand, pre- 
pared for all places ; so great is their activity, and so great 
the abundance of objects from which they proceed. By this 
means, when the first image passes away, and a second is 
afterwards produced in another position, the first then seems 
to have changed its gesture. 

And because images are subtle, the mind cannot acutely 
discern any but those which it earnestly endeavours to discern; 
all, therefore, which exist besides these, pass away unnoticed, 
unless the mind has thus prepared itself and endeavoured to 
distinguish them. The mind, accordingly, does prepare itseli, 
and expects that that will occur which is consequent ^ on that 
which has preceded; so that it observes each particular oc- 
currence. Thtcs, therefore, the effect is produced, 

* Do you not see, also, that the feyes, when they have begun 
to look at things which are small^ exert and prepare them- 
selves ; and that we could not, without this exertion, clearly 
discern them ? And even in respect, also, to objects easily dis- 
tinguishable, you may observe, that if you do not apply your 
mind to remark any one of them, it is just the same as if it 

* As in that time in which one word is uttered, S^c,] Ver. 797. 

Consentimus id, ut, quum Vox emittitur un^ 
Tempora multa latent, ratio quae comperit esse. 

Does one time comprehend the motions of several times, as the pro- 
nunciation of one word comprehends the times of pronouncing each 
syllable ? See Wakefield. Lachmann ejects the first of these two 
verses. It had previously been condemned by Lambinus and Fa- 
ber. ** Ou bien ne sera-t-il pas plus veritable, que dans^ le terns que 
nous exprimons notre pens^e par quelque voix, if y a plusieurs instans 
cachez dans 1' espace de ce terns, par le moyen desquels V agilit^ des 
images aussi bien que leur ecoulement universel, foumit en quelque 
tems que ce soit, de quoi remplir la variety de la pens^e." Couturea, 
' Expects that that will occur which is consequent, 4r<^.] Ver. 807* 
Speratque fixturum^ Ut videatt quod consequitur, rem quamqve, I have 
translated this according to the notion of Forbiger, as it is his text. 
Speratque futurum quod consequiiuTt ut videat rem quamque. Other 
editions (except Wakefield's) put no stop after consequUur, 

176 . LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 814—829. 

were all the time removed and far distant //*o»i youf How is 
it therefore surprising, if the mind loses sight of all other 
images, except those concerning matters to which it is itself 
directed? Besides, we form opinions of great things from 
small indications, and thus lead ourselves into the delusion of 

It happens, also, that sometimes a second image is not pre- 
sented of the same kind as the first, but that that which was 
before a woman under our hands, seems to be before tis 
changed into a man ; or that one face, and one age follows 
after another ; but at this, sleep and oblivion prevent us from 

In these matteris, remember fhat it is necessary diligently 
to shun this fault, ^ and to avoid it cautiously, as a most griev- 
ous error ; the fault, namely, of supposing that all the parts 
of animals were formed with a view to the uses to which they 
have been adapted; lest you should suppose that the bright 
luminaries of the eyes were produced that we may be able 
to see with them; and that the pillars of the legs and thighs, 
built upon the feet, were united for this purpose, that we might 

* In these matters, remember that it is necessary diligently to shun 
this fault, 5-c.] Ver. 824. 

niud in his rebus vitium vehementer inesse 
Effu^ere errorem, vitareque praemetuenter, 
Lumma ne facias oculorum clara creata, 
Prospicere ut possimus. 

It would occupy too much space to cite all the different readings of 
this passage, and the emendations which have been proposed. All 
commentators have seen that there is no satisfactory sense to be ex- 
tracted from it as it stands. I have imderstood memento : (memento) 
inesse in his rebus vehementer effugere illud vitium (quasi) errorem, 
^c. The only successful correction is Lachmann*s, who alters the 
first line to Illttd in his vitium vehementer rebu* necesse est ; a conjec- 
ture which the shades of Lambinus and Faber may wonder that 
they missed. 

'* Lucretius maintains that the eye was not made for seeing, nor 
the ear for hearing. But the terms in which he recommends this 
doctrine show how hard he knew it to be for men to entertain such 
an opinion. * * ^* Undoubtedly the poet is so far right, that a most 
'vehement caution and vigilant premeditation' are necessary to 
avoid the vice and error of such a persuasion. The study of the 
adaptations of the human frame is so convincing, that it carries the 
mind with it, in spite of the resistance suggested by speculative 
systems." WhetoeWs Bridgeuxxter Treatise, p. 351. 

B. IV. 830-865. LUCRETIUS. 177 

take long steps on the road ; and, moreover, that the fore-arms 
fitted to the stout upper arms, and the hands ministering on 
either side, were given tts that we might perform those 
offices which would be necessary for the support oflik. 

Other suppositions of this sort — whatever explanations men 
give — are all preposterous, reasoning being ^us perverted. 
For nothing was produced in the body to the end that we 
might use it ; but that which has been produced, being found 
serviceable for certain ends, begets use. Neither was the fa- 
ctdty , of seeing in existence before the light of the eyes was 
made, nor that of speaking with words before the tongne was 
formed ; but rather the origin of the tongue long preceded 
speech, and the ears were made long before any sound was 
heard ; and, in fine, all members, as I think, existed before 
there was any use of them discovered.^ They could not, there- 
fore, have been produced for the sake of being used. 

But, on the contrary, to engage in battle with the hand, and 
to tear the limbs, and to pollute the body with gore, was prac- 
tised long before bright darts were hurled ; and nature com- 
pelled us to avoid a wound, before the left hand, by the help 
of art, presented the defence of a shield. 

And, certainly, to ccunmit the wearied body to rest is of 
much more antiquity than the soft cushions of the couch ; and 
to quench the thirst wa^ practised before cups were invented. 

Such things as these, then, which were found out from expe- 
rience and the objects of life, may be believed to have been in- 
vented for the purpose of using them; those things, however, 
which were all first produced independently, gave a knowledge 
of their utility afterwards. Of which kind, especially, we see 
that the senses and members of the body are. Wherefore again 
and again Isai^, it is impossible for you to believe^ that they 
could have been produced for the sake of use. 

This, also, is not to be wondered at, that the very nature 
of the body of every animal requires food. For I have shown 
that many atoms pass off and recede from substances in many 
ways ; but the most numerous must pass off from animals ; 
because they are exercised by motion, and many particles are 
carried forth, urged from the interior of the body, by perspir- 
ation ; many, also, are exhaled through the mouth, when they 

* It is impossible for you- to believe.] Ver. 857. Procul eat ut 
credere possis. 


LTJCEETIUS. B. IV. 866—895. 

pant from weariness. By these means, therefore, the body 
wastes, and all its nature is undermined ; a state on which 
pain is attendant. On this account food is taken, that it may 
support the limbs, and, being given at intervals, may recruit 
the strength, and repress the eager desire of eating through- 
out the organs and veins. % 

Liquid also descends into all parts of the body^ whatsoever 
require liquid ; and the moisture, coming into the frame^ dis- 
sipates the many collected atoms of heat, which cause a burn- 
ing in our stomacli, and extinguishes them like fire, so that 
arid heat may no longer dry up our limbs. Thus, therefore, 
you see, panting thirst is expelled from our bodies ; thus the 
pining desire of food is satisfied. 

I will now state how it comes to pass that we can advance 

our steps when we please, and how it is given us to move 

our limbs out-of-the-direct-line ; ^ and what cause is wont to 

push forward this great weight of our body. Do thou, my 

friend, attentively-receive my instructions. 

1 affirm, then, that images of going first approach to the 
mind, and impinge on the mind, as we observed before re- 
specting images in general. Thence arises will, for no man 
begins to do any thing, before his mind has discerned 
what it will do. And according to what it discerns, is 
the image of his action.^ When, theivefore, the mind so stirs 
itself, that it desires to proceed and move forward, it immedi- 
ately acts on the substance of the soul, which is distributed in 
the whole body, and through the limbs and joints ; and this 
is easily done, since the substance of the soul is held united 
with the mind. That substance of the soul forthwith acts upon 
the body ; and thus, by degrees, the whole mass of the man 
is protruded and TCLoy^^ forwards. 

The body at that time, moreover, opens its pores, and the 
air, which is always easily excited to motion, enters, as it na- 
turally must indeed, through the open spaces, and penetrates 

> Out-of-the-direct-line.] Ver. 879. Varl, Wakefield's reading 
for the varil of other editors. 

2 And according to what it discerns is the image of his action.] 
Ver. 886. /«?, quod providet, illius ret constat imago, ** Id, nempe 
secundum, icarA.'* Wake/ield, So likewise ForUger, Lambinus 
reads At quod, S^c, and interprets the passage thus : " That which the 
mind foresees is the image of that thing which the man wills 
to do." 

B. IV. 896-930. LUCRETIUS. 179 

the passages abundantly, and is thus dispersed through every 
minute portion of the body ; thus, therefore, the body, by 
two several powers,^ is made to move along as a ship with 
sails and wind. 

Nor yet is it wonderful, in these matters, that atoms so 
small can wield so great a body, and turn about all our weight. 
For the wind, though but light atid of thin substance, drives 
forward a large ship with vast power ; and one hand rules 
the vessel, with whatever speed it may be going ; while one 
helm turns it in any direction. And a machine, by the help 
of wheels and pulleys, lifts many bodies of great weight, and 
raises them on high with but a slight force. 

And now I shaJl explain by what means sleep spreads rest 
through our limbs, and dispels the cares of the mind from our 
breast ; but I shall do this rather in agreeably-sounding than 
in numerous verses, as the short melody of the swan^ is better 
than the croak of cranes, dispersed among the clouds of hea- 
ven, driven by the south wind. Do you only, MemmiuSy 
devote to me your attentive ears and discerning mind, that 
you may not deny what I say to be possible, and depart from 
me with a breast repelling true precepts, when you yourself 
are in fault, and yet cannot perceive that such is the case. 

In the first place, sleep occurs when the substance of the 
soul has been disturbed throughout the several members, and 
has partly seceded from the body, (as being driven forth 
abroad,) and has partly, as being more concentrated, retreated 
into the interior of the body; for then, at length, when the 
frame is in this state, the limbs are relaxed and lose their power. 
Since there is no doubt but that this our vital sense exists in us 
by means of the soul, which sense when sleep hinders from be- 
ing exerted, we must then suppose that our soul is disturbed, 
and expelled from the body; btU not wholly, for if it were all 
ioithdrawn, the body would lie steeped in the eternal cold of 
death, as, in that case, no part of the soul would remain latent 
in the members, (concealed as fire lies hidden under thick 
ashes,) whence the sense might be suddenly rekindled through- 
out the limbs, and fiame, as it were, rise from secret heat. 

But by what means this change from wakefulness to sleep 

' By two several powers.] Ver. 897. Rebtts vtrinque duabus. Viz, 
by the soul and the air. 
' Short melody of the swan, ^c,] See on ver. 181. 

N 2 

180 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 931-962. 

is produced, and how the sonl may be disturbed, and the body 
languish, I will explain. Do you, my friend, take care that 
I may not pour out my words to the winds. 

In the first place, it necessarily happens that the body, 
since it is touched by the breezes of the air to which it is ex- 
posed, must be externally assailed and harassed by the frequent 
impulse of that otr; and, for this reason, almost all animated 
bodies are covered with hide, or even with shells, or with hard 
skin, or bark. This same air, likewise, impinges on the in- 
terior part of the body of animals, when, as they breathe, it 
is drawn in and respired. For which reason, when the body 
is affected from both causes,^ and when assaults penetrate 
through the small pores of our frame to its primary parts and 
first elements, a l£j)efactation, as it were, takes place by de- 
grees throughout our members ; for the positions of the ele- 
ments of the body and mind are disturbed, so that part of the 
soul is drawn forth from them, and part retires hidden into 
the interior ; part also, dispersed throughout the limbs, cannot 
remain united together, nor perform its ordinary motions mu- 
tually with other parts ; for nature obstructs the communica- 
tions and passages, and therefore, the motions of the atoms being 
changed, sense wholly fails.^ And since there remains nothing 
that can, as it were, prop up the limbs, the body becomes weak, 
and all its members languish ; the arms and the eye-lids fall, 
and the hams oflen subside with a sinking lassitude,^ and relax 
their strength. 

Sleep, too, follows upon taking food, because food, while it 
is being distributed through all the veins, produces the same 
effects which the air produces ; and that sleep is far the most 
heavy which you take when full or weary ; because most of 
the atoms of the frame are then disturbed, being shaken with 
much efibrt. By the same means, a deeper concussion in the 
substance of the soul takes place, as well as a larger ejection 
of it without, and it becomes more divided in itself and dis- 
tracted within, 

* Affected from both causes.] Ver. 940. Uirtnque secus — vapulet. 
** Utrinqtte secus, that is, ex uirdgue parte, internally and externally." 

* Wholly fails.] Ver. 950. Abit aM, i. e. penitus^ omnino, 

^ Sinking lassitude.] Ver. 954. Cubanti tamd. " By tama is meant 
excessive fatigue from walking, when the blood settles in the legs, 
and causes a swelling." Festus, 

B. IT. 963—1001. LUCRETIUS. 181 

And in general, as each of us, having pursued any study, 
is devoted to it in his thoughts, or in whatever occupation we 
have been much engaged previously, — ^and the mind has been 
more exerted in that pursuit,— we seem, for the most part, to 
go through the same employments in sleep. Lawyers seem 
to plead causes and to make laws ; generals to fight and en- 
gage in battles ; sailors to wage settled war with the winds ; 
and myself to pursue this work, and investigate perpetually the 
nature of things, and to explain it, when discovered, in the 
language of my country^. 

Thus other studies and arts seem generally, in sleep, to 
occupy the minds of men with delusions. And whatsoever per- 
sons have given continual attention to games and spectacles 
for many days in succession, we generally see that, in those 
persons, when they have ceased to observe those objects with 
their bodily senses, there are yet passages remaining open in 
the mind, where the same images of the same objects may 
enter. For very many days, therefore, those same images 
are presented before their eyes, so that they seem, even when 
awake, to see figures dancing, and moving their pliant limbs, 
and to listen with their ears to the liquid music and speaking 
chords of the lyre ; and, likewise, to perceive the same assem- 
bly, and to contemplate, at the same time, the various decora- 
tions of the scene shining before them. Of so great influence 
is study and inclination, a|;id so much difference does it make 
in what pursuits, not only men, but indeed all animals, have 
been accustomed to be engaged. For you will see stout horses, 
when their limbs shall be stretched in sleep, yet perpetually 
perspiring and panting, and apparently exerting their utmost 
strength for the palm of victory, or often starting in their sleep 
as if the barriers were just set open. 

And the dogs of huntsmen, when stretched in gentle repose, 
often throw out their legs on a sudden, and hurriedly utter 
cries, and frequently draw in the air with their nostrils, as if 
they were pursuing the weir/y-discovered traces of wild-beasts; 
and oftentimes, after they are awakened, they follow in ima- 
gination the empty images of stags, as if they saw them turned 
to flight, until, their delusions being dispelled, they return to 
their senses. And the fawning br^d of dogs that are accus- 
tomed to the house, begin at times to rouse themselves and 
start up from the ground, just as if they saw strange faces 


and looks. And the more fierce any breeds are, the more must 
the fiEime breedt show fierceness in their steep. 
, But various birds, lihewise, take flight, and suddenly disturb 
with their wings the groves of the gods during the night, if, 
in their quiet ^ep, hawks have appeared, pursuing and flying 
after them, to offer battle and threaten hostilities. 

Moreover the minds of men, whatever great things they 
effect with vast efforts in the day, frequently perform and 
carry on the same things also during their sleep. Kings 
storm cities,' are taken prisoners, join battle, raise a cry as if 
they were being stabbed on the spot. Many struggle -desper- 
ately, and utter groans at if ia pain, and fill all parts arouTtd 
with loud shrieks, as if they were torn by the bite of a panther 
or savage lion. Many in sleep speak of important matters ; 
and men have very often made in dreanu a revelation of 
their own guilt. Many, apparently, die; many show terror 
through their whole frame, like persons who are casting them- 
selves to the ground from high mountains, and, as if deprived 
of their senses, {so disturbed are they bythe agitation of their 
body,) scarcely, after sleep, recover themselves. 

A thirsty man, also, in his dream, often sits near a river or 
pleasant fountain, and almost swallows up the whole stream 
with his mouth. Boys, too, bound fast in sleep, fancy that, 
being near a tank or broken vessel, they are raising up their 
garment, and potir forth the bottled_ liquid * of the whole body, 
when the Babylonian coverlets, of magnificent splendour, are 

Or when, at length,* the full ripe hour is reach'd 

Of vigorous manhood, and the genial stores 

' Kings Btorm citiei.J Ver. 1010 Reffa ezpugnaiU. " Kingi, whose 
minds are adtated with miiht; thoughts in the day, are naturally 
occupied with similar thoughts during the night, and accordingly 
ttona, e.g. towers, fortresses. Thus rega wifl be the n — ;--'- — 
case, which I think proper to mention, because some com.„ 
have injudiciously taken it for the accusative. " IfateJSeld. 
' Battled liquid.] Ver. ] 025. Eumormi iivxatum, 
• Orwhen.atlength,^,] Ver. 1027. Theremainderof this book 
it i< ihoupht advisable to give in the version of Dr. Good. In tran- 
scribing It f»r the jirass, six or seven worda, at most, have been 
altered, partly to make nearer approaches to the teit, and partly 
for other reasons. What Lucretius here presents to his reader, is a 
series of philosophical and moral observations and precepts. They 

B. IV. 102^-1041, LUCRETIUS. 183 

Crowd through the members, ceaseless then, at night, 

Forms of the fair, of look and hue divine. 

Rush on the spirit, and the ducts of love 

So stimulate, where throngs the new-born tide, 

That, as the tender toil were all achiev'd. 

Full flows the stream, and drowns the snowy vest. 

For, as we erst have sung, the seeds of life 
First spring when manhood first the frame <K)nfirm8« 
And as on various functions various powers 
Alone can act propulsive, human seeds 
By nought but human beauty can be roused. 
These, when once gender'd from their cells minute 
O'er every limb, o'er every organ spread. 
Crowd in full concourse tow'rds the nervous fount 
By nature rear'd appropriate ; whence abrupt 
Fxcite they oft, as forms of beauty rise. 
The scenes at hand, the regions ruled by love« 

are subjects, says Good, " that naturally fall within the scope of a 
poem written expresslv upon the Nature of Thinga" and "our poet 
is entitled." he adds, "to the loint thanks of naturalists and ana^ 
tomical pnilosophers for irraoiating their dark and thorny paths 
with the light and fire of the Muses. * * * Lucretius is a lecturer 
upon natural philosophy ; he admits us to his theatre, and gravely 
and scientifically developes the principles of this important subject. 
* * * A serious and attentive reader of this truly learned, as well 
as poetical discourse, whether male or female, cannot possibly, I 
think, peruse it without the acquisition of some degree of useful 
knowledge ; and even the medical professor himself cannot but be 
astonished at the copiousness of his research, and the accuracy that 
accompanies much of its reasoning." 

" There is here no impuri^ of lang[uage, nothing that may not be 
ftientioned with proprie^. If any thing shall appear objectionable, 
such appearance is to be attributed, not to the fault of tne poet, but 
to that of the reader." Faber, 

'I De amore, sterilitate, foecunditate, et aliis omnibus hanc^ ma- 
teriam attingentibus, liberiiis forsan et apertitis^ quto nonnulli vel- 
lent, disputat ; sed philosophis saltem,vel in his tractandis, videtur 
esse indulgendum. WaJcefield, 

Let us also, for once, transcribe a note from Busby. " I have 
observed," says the Doctor. " that my author addresses himself only 
to high and cultivated intellect. The remark applies here with pe- 
culiar force. Lucretius was too much of a man of sense, too much 
of a philosopher, too well acauainted with human feelings, not to 
know that the higher order of minds are little liable to^ seduction 
from the gross exposures of nature ; and only to such minds is his 
poem addressed." 

184 LUCHETIUS. B. IV. 1042—1075. 

Then springs the tender tumour, the warm wish 

Full o'er the foe, the luscious wound who deals, 

With dext'rous aim to pour the high-wrought charge, 

And full contending in the genial fight. 

So falls the victim on the part assail'd : 

With the red blood the glistening bruise so swells ; 

And o'er th' assassin flows the tide he draws. 

So he who feels the shaft of love propell'd 
From the dear form that charms him, tow'rds the spot 
Aims, whence the wound proceeds ; supreme he pants 
To join the contest, and from frame to frame 
Pour the rich humour ; for the fierce desire. 
Now felt, assures how vast the bliss to come. 
This, this is Venus : this he deems true love ; 
Hence flow the drops delicious that the heart 
Erode hereafter, and its train of cares. 
For, though the form adored be absent, still 
Her phantoms haunt the lover, and his ear 
Kings with her name, whatever the path pursued. 

Yet fly such phantoms, from the food of love 
Abstain, libidinous ; to worthier themes 
Turn, turn thj spirit ; let the race at large 
Thy liberal heart divide, nor lavish, gross. 
O'er one fond object thy exhausted strength, 
Gend'ring long cares, and certain grief at last 
For love's deep ulcer fed, grows deeper still, 
Kank, and more pois'nous ; and each coming da^^ 
Augments the madness, if the wretch, perchance. 
Heal not old wounds by those of newer date. 
From fair to fair wide-wand'ring, or his mind 
Turn from such subjects to pursuits unlike. 

Nor are the joys of love from those shut out 
Who brutal lust avoid ; the pure of heart 
Far surer pleasures, and of nobler kind, 
Reap, than the wretch of lewd and low desires, 
Who, in the moment of enjoyment's self, 
Still fluctuates with a thousand fears subdued ; 
O'er the fair wanton, dubious, long who hangs. 
What charm his eyes, his hands shall first devour : 
Till fixt, at length, with furious force the spot 
Painful he presses, through his luscious lips 

B. IV. 1076— nor. LUCRETIUS. 185 

Drives his keen teeth, and everj kiss indents ; 
Striving in vain for joys unmix'd, and urg'd 
By latent stimulus the part to wound, 
Where'er its seat, that frenzies thus his soul. 
But Venus softly smooths the wrongs endur'd, 
And mutual pleasures cheek the lover's rage. 

Then hopes he, too, in the same form to quench 
The madd'ning fires where first the fiame arose. 
Vain hope, by every fact disproved ; for this, 
The more the soul possesses, still the more 
Craves she with keenest ardour. Foods and drinks, 
As through the frame they pass, by toil worn out, 
Fill many a huge interstice ; obvious whence 
Dies the dread sense of hunger and of thirst ; 
But human beauty, and the rosy cheek. 
With nought the panting lover can endow 
But fruitless hopes, but images unsound. 
Scattered by every wind. As, oft, the man, 
Parch'd up with thirst, amid his dreams to drink 
Strives,* but in vain, since nought around him flows 
But void, unreal semblances of floods ; 
So with her votaries sports the power of love, 
False phantoms sole presenting, nor can sight, 
Where'er it rove, be sated with the gaze, 
Nor can the lover's lawless fingers tear 
Aught from his idol, o'er her as he hangs. 
And the full power of every charm explores. 

E'en when, in youth's prime fiower, his panting frame 
Enclasps her frame that pants, when all his soul 
Expects the coming bliss, and Venus waits 
To sow the fertile field, though then amain 
In amorous fold he press her, lip to lip 
Join, and drink deep the dulcet breath she heaves, 
'Tis useless all ; for still his utmost rage 
Can nought subtract ; nor through the fair one force 

' Parch 'd up with thirst, amid his dreams to drink Strives, ifc,] 
Ver. 1090. Ut bibere in aomnia sitiens qwun qumrit^ et hwnor Npn da- 
iur, Isaiah xxix. 8, ** It shall even be as when a hun^pry man 
dreameth, and, behold, he eateth ; but he awaketh, and his soul is 
empty : or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drink- 
eth ; out he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath ap- 

136 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 1108-1128. 

His total frame, commingled with herself. 

Yet oft thus strives he, or thus seems to strive ; 

So strong the toils that bind him ; so complete 

Melt all his members in the sea of love. 

And though, when now the full-collected shock 

Pours from the nerves, some transient pause ensue. 

Yet short its period ; the fond fever soon. 

The frenzy quick returns, and the mad wretch 

Still pants to press that which he press'd before ; 

Nor aught of antidote exists, so deep 

Pines lie, perplext, beneath the latent ill. 

Then, too, his form consumes, the toils of love 
Waste all his vigour, and his days roll on 
In vilest bondage. Amply though endow'd, 
His wealth decays, his debts with speed augment. 
The post of duty never fills he more. 
And all his sick'ning reputation dies. 
Meanwhile rich unguents from his mistress laugh. 
Laugh from her feet soft Sicyon's shoes superb ; ^ 
The green-ray'd emerald o'er her, dropt in gold, 
Gleams large and numerous ; and the sea-blue silk, 
Deep-worn, enclasps her, with the moisture drunk 
Of love illicit What his sires amass'd 
Now flaunts in ribands, in tiaras flames 
Full o'er her front, and now to robes converts 
Of Chian loose, or Alidonian mould ; ^ 
While feasts and festivals of boundless pomp. 
And costliest viands, garlands, odours, wines, 

^ Unguents from his mistress laugh, Laugh from her feet soft Si- 
cyon's shoes superb.] Ver. 1121. Ungttmta et pulchra in pedibus 
Sicyonia rident. Shoes from Sicyon were worn only by the showv 
and luxurious. " If you were to offer me a pair of Sicyonian shoes, 
says Cicero, (De Orat. i. 54,) "I should not wear them, because, 
although they might be easy, and fit my foot well, they would ap- 
pear effeminate." 

* Robes — Of Chian loose, or Alidonian mould.] Ver. 1126. In 
paUam atqve Alidensia Chiaque, Wakefield thinks that Alidensia is for 
Alindensia, from AUnda, a city of Caria, referring to Plin. N. H. v. 
29.^ Chia, also, he derives^ not from the island Chios, but from 
Chios, another town of Cana, mentioned by Steph. Byzant. ; so that 
one epithet, he says, supports and illustrates the other. Lambinus 
and others read Meliteruia Ceaque^ from Melita, or Malta, (Meli^ 
tenais veatU, Cic. Ver. ii. 74,) and Ceos, an island in the ^gean. 

]&. IT. 1129-1163. LUCRETIUS. 187 

And scatter'd roses ceaseless are renew'd. 
But fruitless every art ; some bitter still 
Wells forth perpetual from his fount of bliss, 
And poisons every floVret. Keen remorse 
Groads him, perchance, for dissipated time, 
And months on months destroyed ; or from the fair 
Haply some phrase of doubtful import darts, 
That, like a living coal, his heart corrodes ; 
Or oft her eyes wide wander, as he deems. 
And seek some happier rival, while the smile 
Of smother'd love half-dimples o'er her cheeks. 

Such are the ills that on amours attend 
Most blest and prosperous ; but on those adverse 
Throng myriads daily, obvious and more keen. 
Hence, by the muse forewam'd, with studious' heed 
Shun thou the toils that wait ; for easier far 
Those toils to shun, than, when thy foot once slides, 
To break th' entangling meshes and be free. 

Yet though insnar'd, and in the silly net 
Led captive, thou may'st still, if firm of mind, 
And by these numbers sway'd, thy foot release* 
First the defects, then, of the form adored, 
Of mind, of body, let thy memory ne'er 
One hour forget ; for these full oft mankind 
See not, by passion blinded ; while, reversed. 
Charms they bestow Which never were the fair's. 
Hence frequent view we those, each grace denied, 
The coarse, the crooked, held in high esteem. 
And lovers laugh o'er lovers, and exhort 
Offerings to Venus since so vilely swayed, 
While yet themselves are swayed more vilely still. 
To such the black assume a lovely brown ; 
The rank and filthy, negligence and ease ; 
The red-eyed is a Pallas ; the firm-limb'd. 
All bone, a bounding roe ; the pigmy dwarf, 
A sprightly grace, all energy and wit ; 
The huge and bulky, dignified and grand ; 
The stammerer lisps ; the silent is sedate ; 
The pert virago^ spirit all and fire ; 
The hectic, fine and delicate of frame ; 
The victim worn with pulmonary cough, 

188 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 1164—1196. 

On life's last verge, a maid of matchless waist ; 
The broad, big-bosom'd, Ceres full displayed, 
As from the bed of Bacchus ; the flat-nos'd 
Of monkey shape, a Satyr from the woods ; 
And the broad-lipp'd, a Nymph for kisses formed. 

But countless such conceits, and to narrate 
Idle ; yet grant the frame ador'd possess'd 
Of face divine, that all the power of love 
Plays o'er each limb symphonious, others still 
Exist of equal beauty ; still ourselves 
Once liv'd without her ; and full well we know 
She, too, each art essays the baser need. 
And so with scents bedaubs her that her maids 
Far fly oppress'd, and vent their smother'd laugh. 

Then, too, the wretched lover oft abroad 
Bars she, who at her gate loud weeping stands. 
Kissing the walls that clasp her ; with perfumes 
Bathing the splendid portals, and around 
Scattering rich wreaths and odoriferous flowers. 
Yet when at length admitted, the flrst breath 
So deep offends him, he some motive seeks 
Instant to quit her ; his long-labour'd speech 
Of suffering drops, and owns himself a fool. 
That for one moment he could deem her crown'd 
With charms the race of mortals ne'er can boast. 
This know full well the Paphian nymphs, and, deep 
Behind the scenes of action, each defect 
Strive they to hide from him they fain would sway. 
But vain th' attempt ; for oft the mind will guess 
The latent blemish, and the laugh unfold. 
Whence those of soul ingenuous frankly own. 
Frequent, those faults which none can all escape. 

Yet not for ever do the softer sex 
Feign joys they feel not, as with close embrace. 
Breast join'd to breast, their paramours they clasp, 
And print their humid kisses on their lips. 
Oft from their hearts engage they, urg'd amain 
By mutual hopes to run the race of love. 
Thus nature prompts ; by mutual hopes alone. 
By bliss assur'd, birds, beasts, and grazing herds. 
The task essay ; nor would the female else 

B. IV. 1197-1230. LUCRETIUS. 1 89 

E'er bear the burden of the vigorous male^ 
By mutual joys propell'd. Hast thou not seen, 
Hence tempted, how in mutual bonds they strive 
Worked oft to madness ? how the race canine 
Stain with their vagrant loves the public streets, 
Diversely dragging, and the chain obscene 
Tugging to loose, while yet each effort fails ? 
Toils they would ne'er essay if unassur'd 
Of mutual bliss, and cheated to the yoke. 
Whence o'er and o'er the bliss must mutual prove. 

If when the male his genial energy 
Imparts, the female deep her breath retract 
Transported most, the race produc'd will, then. 
From female store prove female ; if revers'd. 
From store paternal, male. But when the form 
Blends both its parents' features, it ascends 
From equal powers of each ; the impulse warm 
Rousing alike, through each conflicting frame. 
The seeds of latent life in scale so nice 
That neither conquers, nor to conquest yields. 

Oft view we, too, the living lines portray'd 
Of ancestors remote ; for various seeds, 
Commingled various, through the parent frame 
Lurk, which from race to race preserve entire 
The form, the features of the anterior stock. 
Diversely such the power creative blends ; 
Whence oft the voice revives, the hair, the hue. 
The full complexion of the race deceas'd ; 
For these as sure from seeds defin'd ascend 
As e'en the face, the body, or the limbs. 
Then, too, though male the fetus, female stores 
Aid the production ; while, if female form'd, 
The tide paternal mixes in the make ; 
For both must join, or nought can e'er ensue. 
But obvious this, that when the semblance more 
Inclines to either, the prevailing sex 
Chief lent the seeds of life, and rear'd complete 
The virgin embryo, or incipient man. 

Nor ever interfere the gods above 
In scenes like these, the genial soil lock up, 
Or curse with barren love the man unbles^ 

190 LUCRETIUS. B. IV. 1231—1264. 

No lovely race who boasts to hail him sire, — 
As deem the many, who, in sadness drown'd, 
Oft offer victims, and, with fragrant gums. 
Kindle the blazing altar, wearying heav'n 
Vainly, to fill the void reluctant womb. 
For blank sterility from seeds ascends 
Too gross, or too attenuate ; if the last. 
Ne'er to the regions that generic spread 
Cleave they, rejected instant as propelVd. 
But if too gross the genial atoms, dull 
Move they, and spirifless, or never urg'd 
With force sufficient, or of power devoid 
The puny ducts to pierce, or, pierc'd, to blend 
Harmonious with the vital fluid found. 
For love harmonious, whence increase alone 
Can spring, oft differs largely ; easier far 
Some filling some, and others easier fill'd 
And gravid made by others ; whence, at times. 
Those, many a Hymen who have erst essay'd , 
Vainly, at length th* appropriate stores acquire. 
And feel the lovely load their wombs enrich. 
While he, perchance, whose prior banns forbade 
All the fond hope of offspring, happier now 
A mate has found of more concordant powers, 
And boasts a race to prop hi» crumbling age. 

So much imports it that the seeds of life 
With seeds should mix symphonious, that the gross 
Condense the rare, the rare the gross dilute. 
And man with woman duly pair'd unite. 
Much, too, concerns it what the foods employed ; 
For some augment the genial stores, and some 
Dissolve their crasis, and all power destroy. 
Nor small the moment in what mode is dealt 
The bland delight. The sage who views minute 
Herds, and the savage tribes by nature led, 
Holds that the virtuous matron chief conceives, 
When, with subsiding chest, and loins erect, 
Her dulcet charms she offers, fittest then 
The luscious tide t' absorb ; for nought avail 
Exerted motions, the perpetual heave 
Of frame high-strain'd, and ever-labouring lungs. 

B. IV. 1265—1283. LUCRETIUS. 191 

These, rather, urg'd beneath thie tender fray, 
All fruit prohibit ; since the genial share 
Oft tarn they from the furrow as it holds 
Its course direct, and break th' impinging shock. 
And hence the wanton mistress acts like these 
Frequent indulges, to preclude increase. 
And more transport the lawless form she clasps : 
Arts the chaste matron never needs essay. 

Nor from the darts of Venus, nor the smile 
Of gods above, is she of homelier make 
Frequent belov'd; the praise is all her own. 
By her own deeds, hj cleanliness most chaste, 
Ajid sweet consenting manners, the delight 
Lives she of him who blends his lot with hers. 

Such virtues must prevail, and day o'er day 
Perfect their power ; for, though of gentlest kind. 
Yet urg'd perpetual, such the sternest heart 
Must gradual soften, and at length subdue. 
Hast thou not seen the fountain's falling drops 
Scoop in long time the most obdurate stone ? 



Lucretius commenoes with the praise of Epicunis, and shows that he de- 
serves to be called a deity more than any other hene£Eictor of mankind, 
ver. .1 — 55. He then states the subject of the present book, ver. 56 — 91, 
and proceeds to show that the world is not eternal, ver. 92 — 110, and that 
the heavenly bodies are not, as the Stoics thought, portions of the divine 
nature, nor, as the vulgar suppose, the abode of the gods, ver. Ill — 156. 
That the world was not made by the gods for 1he sake of man, or for their 
own pleasure, may be concluded from the evils existing in it, and from 
other arguments, ver. 156—235. As the four elements are changeable 
and perishable, we must consider that the world which they constitute is 
of a similar nature, ver. 236—324. That the world had a beginning, 
appears from the recent commencement of its history, and the present 
imperfection of many arts among its inhabitants, ver. 325—351; that it 
will have an end, all reasoning respecting it conspires to render probable, 
ver. 352 — 416. The formation of the different parts of the world accord- 
ing to the cosmogony of Epicurus, ver. 417 — 509. Causes of the motions 
of the heavens, and of the earth's remaining at rest, ver. 510 — 564. The 
magnitudes of the heavenly bodies, ver. 565 — 612. Their phsenomena,, 
and the causes of day and night, ver. 618—702. Of the phases of the 
moon, and the edipses of the moon and sun, ver. 703 — 777. The produc- 
tion of plants, animals, and man, ver. 778 — 884. Nature, in her early 
efforts at production, may have generated monsters, but not such as Chi- 
meras or Centaurs, ver. 835 — 922. The rudeness of the early life of man, 
the conmiencement of culture, and the invention of speech, ver. 923 — 
1089. The discovery of fire, and its effects ; the progress of society and 
government, ver. 1090 — 1159. The rise of religion from ignorance of na- 
tural causes, ver. 1160—1239. The discovery of metals, and the origin 
and progress of the arts, both useful and elegant, ver. 1240 — 1456. 

194 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 1—31. 

Who is able, with mighty genius, to compose a strain 
worthy of the majesty of things, and of these discoveries of 
Epicurus? Or "who has such power over words, that he can 
compose eulogies proportionate to the merits of him, who has 
left to us such blessings obtained and acquired by his own 
intellect ? No one, as I think, formed of a mortal body, will 
ever be able. For if we ought to speak as the known dignity 
of the subjects which he. expounded requires, he was a god, a 
god, / 5ay, O illustrious Memmius, who first discovered that 
discipline of life * which is now called wisdom ; and who, by 
the science of philosophy/, placed humar^ existence, from amid 
so great waves of trouble, and so great darkness of the mind, 
in so tranquil a condition and so clear a light. 

For compare with his investigations the ancient discoveries 
of others which are called divine ; as Ceres is said to have 
pointed out corn to mortals, and Bacchus the liquid of wine 
produced from the grape; though life, nevertheless, might 
have continued without these gifts, as it is reported that some 
nations even now live without them; but men could not have 
lived well and AoppeYy without a pure and undisturbed breast. 
For which reason he, from whom the sweet consolations of 
existence, now spread abroad through mighty nations, calm 
the minds of men, seems to us the more justly to be accounted 
a god. 

But if you shall imagine that the deeds of Hercules excel 
his, you will be carried far away from sound reasoning. For 
what harm would those vast jaws of the Nemaean lion, and the 
bristly Arcadian boar, do to us at present ? Or what injury 
could the bull of Crete, and the Hydra, the pest of Lerna, de- 
fended with poisoned snakes, inflict on us at this time? Or how 
could the triple-breasted strength of the three-fold Geryon 
hurt us ? And how could the horsed of Diomede, breathing 
fire from their nostrils, dwelling near Thrace, and the Bisto- 
nian regions, and Ismarus ; or how could the Arcadian birds, 

* Discovered that discipline of life, S^c.'] Ver. 9. Vitce ratixmem in- 
venit earn qtice nunc appellatur sapientia, Wakefield adduces, on this 
passage, Cic. de Fin. i. 5, where the philosophy of Epicurus is first 
called Epicuri ratio ^ and afterwards disciplina. Sapientia is equiva- 
lent to true philosophy, Horace (Od. i. 34> 2) alludes to the doc- 
trines of Epicurus as insaniem sapientia, "an erring or insane philo- 

B. V. 32—60. LUCRETIUS. 195 

formidable with their hooked talons, inhabiting the lake Stym- 
phalus, have so much annoyed us that we shotdd think much 
of their destruction'^ Or how, I pray, would the fierce ser- 
pent, with his stern looks and huge body, that watched, as he 
encircled the stem of a tree, the shining golden apples of the 
Hesperides, have interfered with our comfort, when he lived- 
near the shore of the ocean, and the rough waters of the sea, 
whither neither any countryman of ours goes^ nor any barba- 
rian dares to approaxihf 

How, I ask, would other monsters of this kind, which have 
been killed, hurt us, if they had not been conquered, and were 
now alive ? Not at all, as I am of opinion ; for thus, even 
now, the earth is abundantly overrun * with wild beasts, and 
filled with alarming terror throughout the groves, and vast 
mountains, and deep woods ; but these are places which we 
for the most part have power to avoid. 

But unless the mind is purified, what contests and dangers 
must we incur in spite of our utmost efforts ! How many 
'vbitter cares, arising from lust, tear the man distracted by them^ 
and how many consequent terrors ! Or what iUs do pride, 
uncleanness, wantonness, produce! How great calamities do 
they cause ! And what evils do luxury and sloth generate! 

Will it not be fit, then, that we should deem this man, who 
subdued all these evih^ and expelled them from the mind, not 
with arms, but with words, worthy to be ranked in the num- 
ber of the gods ? Especially when he was accustomed to give 
precepts, both numerous and divinely expressed^ concerning 
the immortal gods themselves, and to set forth in his instruc- 
tions the whole nature of things. 

This is he on whose track I have entered, whilst I pursue 
his system of philosophy, and show, in these expositions, how 
necessarily all things individually continue-their-existence ac- 
cording to that law by which they were produced, and how 
impotent they are to break the strong conditions of time and 
destiny? In which class of things produced and limited in ex- 

* Is abundantly overrun.] Ver. 40. Ad aatietatem — scatit, ** Ad 
satietatenif i. e. rrpbc KSpov^ valde^ very much or abundantly." Latn- 

' To break the strong conditions of time and deatinyj] Ver. 59, 
Validas <Bvi rescindere leges, "To ensure beyond the bounds fixed 
and appointed by nature." Creech, 

o 2 

196 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 61—82. 

istence, the substance of the mind, above all, has been found to 
be; and hcis been demonstrated to be formed of a generated 
consistence at first, and to be unable' to endure umnJureiS^ 
through vast eternity. But / ^have also made it plain, that 
when we seem to behold him, in our sleep, whom life has left, 
mere images are accustomed to deceive the mind. 

For what remains, the course of my subject has now 
brought me to 1;he point at which I have to demonstrate that 
the world ^ consists of dissoluble matter, and that it had also 
a beginning ; and to show by what means the combination 
of matter established the earth, the heaven, the sea, the stars, 
the sun, and the globe of the moon ; and what living creatures 
sprung from the earth, and what, though believed to have ex- 
isted, have at no period been produc^^ / have also to tell 
how the human race, with various speech, began to hold in- 
tercommunication^ by means of names of things ; and by what 
process that oppressive fear of the gods entered the breasts of 
men ; a fear which maintains throughout the world sacred 
temples, lakes, groves, altars, and images of the divinities. 

I shall besides explain by what force ruling nature guides the 
courses of the sun and the paths of the moon, lest, perchance, 
we should think that these bodies pursue eternal revolutions 
unrestrained and of themselves, in order to promote the 
growth of fruits and living creatures ; and lest we should sup- 

' The course of my subject has now brought me to the point at 
which I have to demonstrate that the world, S^c.'] Ver. 65, 

Nunc hue rationis detulit ordo 
Ut mihi, mortal! consistere corpore mundum, 
Nativumque simul, ratio reddtmda sit, esse. 

" He now proceeds to show that the world was produced, and will 
perish. * * * Plato supposed that the world had a beginning, but 
that it will not have an end ; not because it is eternal by its own 
nature, or because he denies that every thing which is bom decays ; 
but on account of the goodness of the deity who made it, and who 
will not suffer a work so excellent and perfect to fall to pieces. 
Aristotle thought that it had no beginning and will have no end. 
Epicurus believed both that it had a' beginning and will have an 
end." Lambinus. " To the point at which " answers to htic — tU, 

' What — have at no period been produced.l Ver. 71. Qua mdlo 
sint tempore nata, " Understand Chimaeras, Centaurs, Scyllae, Her- 
maphrodites, S^c." Faber, 

^ To hold intercommunication.] Ver. 73. Inter se yesci. " Vesci, 
i. e. to live, or enjoy life, by the formation of society ; in a secondary 
sense of tne word." WaJceJield. 

D, V. 83—105. LUCRETIUS. 197 

pose that they are guided by uny plan of the gods. For if 
iAose who have fairly uoderstood that the goda pass a life free 
from care, neverthdess wonder, meanwhile, how things can 
severally be carried on, eapecially in those matters which are 
seen in the ethereal regions over our heads, they are carried 
back again to their old notions of religion, and set over them- 
selves cruel tyrants, whom they unhappily believe able to do 
all things ; being themselves ignorant what can, and what can- 
not, be done, and by wliat means limited power, and a deeply 
fixed boundary, are assigned to every thing. 

To proceed, then, and to delay you no longer with pro- 
mises, contemplate, in the first place, the sea, and the earth, 
and the heaven ; the triple nature of wliich, dear Memmius, 
(three bodies, three forms so dissimilar, tlircc substances q/* 
such a different ctmsistence,) one day will consign to destmc- 
tion ; and the mass and fabric of the world, sustained through 
so many years, shall sink itilo total dissolution.^ 

Nor does it escape my consideration, how new and wonder- 
ful a subject it is for your reflection, that there will be an end 
to the heaven and the earth ; and how diflicult it is for me to 
convince j^mt of this with arguments ; as it generally happens, 
indeed, when you offer to the ear a subject hitherto strange to 
it, and yet cannot submit it to the sight of the eye, or put it 
into the hand ; the avenues through which the nearest main 
road* of belief leads into the human breast and the regions of 
the mind. But yet I will express my thoughts; fact itself, 
perhaps, will bring credit to my words, and you will see, per- 

al da>obltiOB.'\ 

Plovers of the iky ! ^e, too, to age muit yield. 
Frail as your silken aisterB of the field! 
Star after star from heaven's high arch shall ruth, 
Suns sink on suns, and syitams syttenu crush ; 
Headlong, extinct, to one dark centre fall, 
And Death, and Night, and Chaoa, miuf^le all ! 

Darwin'i Botaiuc GanUn, iv. 371. 

' The oBCTiBM through which the nearest main road, ^c,'] Vex. 
103. Via qu& mitnittt jMri Proximo feri humamon in pectui ten^lague 

Via praxima is the nearest or shortest way ; f 
'hat we discover by sinht and touch." 
iple, in many parts of England, have a saying, that 

readily believe what we discover by sinht and touch." LanMmu. 
The common people, in many parts of En ' ' ' - .i . 

" Seeing is believmg, and feeling ii truth. 

198 LUCRETIUS. B. T. 106—141. 


chance, all things violently shaken, in a brief space of time, 
with rising convulsions of the earth ; which time may Fortune, 
with commanding power, avert far from us ; and may reason, 
rather than reality, convince us that all things, overcome bi/ 
the infltience of time, may sink with a direfully-sounding 
crash into destruction. 

On this subject, before I begin to utter oracles, (expressed 
with more sincerity, and with much more true reason, than 
those of the Pythian priestess, who speaks from the tripod aiid 
laurel of Apollo,) I will set forth to you many consolations in 
lieamed and philosophic arguments, lest, perchance, being re- 
strained by religion, you should suppose that the earth, the 
sun, the heaven, the stars, and the moon, beiTig endowed with 
a divine nature, must pursue their courses eternally ; and lest 
you should conceive, in consequence, that it is just for all 
those, (after the manner of the giants,) to suffer punishment 
for their monstrous wickedness, who, by their reasoning, 
would shake the walls of the world, and seek to quench the 
radiant sun in the heavens ; animadverting, in mortal speech, 
on bodies which are called immortal, but which, in reality, 
are so far distant from divine power, and are so unworthy to 
appear in the number of gods, that they may rather be thought 
adapted to give iis a notion of that which is altogether re- 
moved from vital motion and sense. 

For it is not possible that the nature and rationality of in- 
tellect should be thought capable of existing in all kinds of 
bodies whatsoever. As a tree cannot exist in the sky,* nor 
clouds in the salt sea ; nor can fish live in the fields, nor blood 
be in wood, nor liquid in stones ; so it is fixed and appointed 
where every thing may grow and subsist. Thus the nature 
of the mind cannot spring up alone without the body, or exist 
apart from the nerves and the blood. Whereas if this could 
happen, the faculty of the human soul might rather arise in the 
head, or shoulders, or in the bottom of the heels, and might 
rather indeed be accustomed to grow in any place, than to 
remain in the same man and the same receptacle of the man. 
But since it seems certain and fixed even in our own body, in 
what part the soul and the mind may subsist and grow up by 
themselves, it is so much the rather to be denied that they can 

* As a tree cannot exist in the sky, ^c.J Ver. 129. Sicut in (ethere 
noti arbor, &c. See this passage in book iii. 785, seg. 

B.v. 142-171. * LUCRETIUS. 199 

exist out of the entire body, and without an animal form, 
whether in the soft clods of earth, or in the fire of the sun, or 
in the water, or in the lofty regions of the air. The heaven' 
ly bodies, therefore, since they cannot be animated with life, 
are not endowed with a divine sense. 

It is not possible, moreqver, that you should believe there 
^re sacred seats of the gods in any quarters of our world. 
For the nature and substance of the gods, being subtle and fair 
removeld from our senses, is scarcely apprehended by the power 
of our mind. And since it has hitherto escaped the touch and 
impact of our hands, it can a^ssuredly touch nothing that id 
tangible by us ; for nothing can touch another body, if it is not 
possible for itself to be touched. For which reason the abodes 
of the gods, also, must be dissimilar to our abodes, as being 
subtle, and correspondent to their own nature.^ These points 
I shall hereafter prove to you with abundance of argument. . 

To say, moreover, that the gods designed to arrange all this 
noble fabric of the world for the sake of men, and therefore 
that we ought to extol it as an honourable achievement of 
the deities, and to believe that it will certainly be eternal 
and imperishable ; and to affirm that it is unlawful ever to 
disturb from its seat, by any force of argument, that which 
was established for the human race by ancient contrivance and 
for perpetual duration, or to shake and displace, though only 
in words, the sum of things from their ba3is ;^ and to feign 
and add other conceits of this sort, dear Memmius, is to be 
guilty of the utmost folly ; for what profit can our gratitude 
afibrd to those who are immortal and blessed in themselves, 
that they should labour to effect any thing for our sake ? Or 
what new incitement could induce those, who were before 
tranquil, to desire, so long afterwards, to change their former 
mode qf\i£e?^ For it would seem that he only, whom old 

' Subtle, and correspondent to their own nature.] Ver. 155. Tenties, 
de corpore eontm, ** Tne abodes of the ^ods must be subtle, as con- 
sisting of the same sort of atoms of which the gods themselves con- 
sist." Faber, 

* Displace the sum of things from their basis.] Ver. l64u Ab 

into evortere summa. Lambinus has summam. If we read summa, in 
the ace. pi. with Forbiger, it must be considered as equivalent to oni' 
nia^ cuncta. Lucretius elsewhere uses summua for totua, as in i. 49, de 
8ummd coeli ratione, 

^ To change their former mode of life,] Ver. 170. Vitam mutare pri- 
orem. If the life of the gods was happy from the first, why did Aiey 

200 LUCRETIUS. • B. V. 172—199. 

things offend, ought to delight in things that are new ; but in 
him to whom no trouble has happened in past time, when he 
spent life happily, what could excite the deare of novelty ? * 
Or, forsooth, the life o/* the gods w&s oppressed with gloom and 
sorrow, until the genial birth of terrestricA things shone forth ? 
Or, again, what evil would it have been to us never to have 
been bom ? F<wr whoever is born must certainly wish to re-* 
main in life, as long as any alluring pleasure shall engage 
him ; but to him who never tasted tiLe love of life, nor was 
ever in the number <^ living beings,^ what affliction is it not 
to have been bom ? 

Moreover, whence was a model or idea for making things, 
and whence was the notion of men themselveSy implanted in 
the gods at first, that they should know, and conceive in their 
mind, what they should seek to do ? Or by what means was 
the power of primary-particles known, and what they could 
effect by their change of order and place^ if Nature herself did 
not give the^r^^ specimens of production ? 

For the primordial atoms of things were driven in so many 
ways by so many impulses, through an infinite duration of 
time, and were accustomed so to be borne and carried forward 
by their own weight, and to meet in all modes, and to try all 
endeavours, as if to ascertain what their combinations might 
generate, that it is not surprising if they fell at last into such 
positions, and acquired such motions, as those by which this 
universe of things, ^through perpehuU^ renoY^iJdon^ is now car- 
ried on. 

But if I were even ignorant^ what the primary-elements of 
things are, yet this I could venture to assert, from the scheme 
of the heaven itself, and to support it from many other rea- 
sons, that the system of things was by no means prepared for 

produce a world, or worlds, for the sake of making a change in it? 
Was it merely that they might have a new subject on which to 
bestow their attention? But what motive, asks Lucretius, could 
they have for taking such trouble, when they had previously all that 
they wanted for enjoyment ? 

^ But in him what could excite the desire of novelty?] 

Ver. 174. Quid potuit novitatis amorem accendere talif '* Tali ovrtt in 
such a being, whether god or man." Faber* 

* Nor was ever in the number of living beings.] Ver. 181. Necfuit 
in numero. "Rerum creatanun." Faber. 

' But if I were even ignorant, S^.] Ver. 196. Quod si jam rerum 
ignorem, &c. This sentiment he had already advanced^ ii. 177, seq. 

B. V. 200-229. LUCRETIUS. 201 

US by divine power ; so grea,t is the faultlness tvith which it 
stands affected. 

In the first place, of all that space which the rapid circum- 
volution of the heaven covers, mountains and woods, the. 
abodes of wild beasts, have occupied a vast portion ; ^ roo1$;8, 
and great marshes, and the sea, which widely separates the 
coasts of countries, cover another vast portion. Moreover, 
burning heat, and the constant descent ot frost, deprive mor- 
tals of almost two-thirds rf what is ItfL And as to the land 
which yet remains, nature would stilly bj her own operation, 
cover it with thorns, if human strength did not prevent; which, 
for the sake of a living, is accustomed to groan under the stout 
mattock, and to cut the earth with ploughs urged through it% 
For unless we, turning up the fertile clods with the plough- 
share, and forcing the soil, excite it to send forth its pro- 
ductions, they would be unable of themselves to rise into 
the liquid air. And yet at times, when all things, procured 
with so great labour, are green and flourish over the earth, 
either the sun in the heavens burns them up with violent hea^ 
or sudden showers and cold frosts destroy them, or bla3ts of 
winds, with violent hurricanes, tear them to pieces. 

Besides, why does nature cherish and increase, by land and 
by sea, a terrible brood of wild beasts and monsters^ hostile to 
the human race ? Why do the seasons of the year bring dis- 
eases ? Why does untimely death wander abroad ? 

Moreover, an infant, as soon as nature, with great efforts, 
has sent it forth from the womb of its mother into the regions 
of light, lies, like a sailor cast out from the waves, in want of 
every kind of vital support ; and fills the parts arouud with 
mournful wailings, as is natural for one by whom so mu(:h 
evil in life remains to be undergone. But the various sorts of 
cattle, herds, and wild beasts, grow up with ease; they have 

* Vast portion.] Ver. 202. Avidam partem, '' Avidus for V€ut; 
since what is greedy requires what is vast/' Gifanitu, The reader 
may take this for an explanation if he pleases. The soundness of 
the reading is doubtful. Lachmann gives, from conjecture, cUiquam 

** A part how small of the terraqueous globe 
Is tenanted by man I The rest a waste, 
Rocks, deserts, frozen seas, and burning sands, 
Wild haunts of monsters, poisons, stings, and death ! 
Such is earth's melancholy map !" 

Youns^e Night Thmght^, i. 

502 LtJCRETIUS. B. V. 230-258. 

no Heed of rattles or other to/^s; nor is the fond and broken 
voice of the nurse * necessary to be used to one of them. Nor 
do they require different dresses according to the season of 
the year ; nor, besides, have they any need of arms, or high 
walls, with which they may defend their property, since the 
earth herself, and Nature, the artificer of things, produce all 
supplies for all in abundance. 

Above all, since the body of the earth, and the water, and 
the light breezes of the winds, and the warm heat, of which 
this Sum of Things seems to be constituted, consist wholly of 
generated and dissoluble substance, the whole frame of the 
world must be considered to be of a similar nature.^ For of 
whatever creatures, in mortal shapes, we see the parts and 
members to be of a generated consistence, we observe, in 
general, these same creatures to be themselves both generated 
and mortal. P^or which reason, when I see ihefour elements^ 
the vast members and divisions of the world, wasted and re- 
produced, i may conclude that there was also a time when the 
heaven and earth had a beginning, and that there will be a 
time for their destruction. 

On these points, do not imagine, my Memmius, that I have 
assumed any thing too hastily, in supposing earth and fire to 
be perishable; in not doubting that water and air waste 
away ; and in saying that the same elements are again pro- 
duced and augmented. In the first place, some part of the 
earth, parched with the constant heat of the sun, and tram- 
pled with the perpetual action of feet, exhales mists and fly- 
ing clouds of dust, which strong winds disperse through the 
whole air ; part also of the clods is washed off by showers,^ 
while rivers, as they strike against their banks, wear them 
away. Besides, whatever body increases another, is, on its 

* Fond and broken voice of the nurse.] Ver. 231- Blanda atgtie 
infracta loquela, " Broken^ because parents and nurses are accus- 
tomed to use half words, not whole ones, to children." Lambinns. 

' The whole frame of the world must he considered to be of a 
similar nature.] Ver. 240. Debet eddem ofnnis mundi natura putari. 
" E^dem m&" says^ Wakefield, that is, in the same way, or hy the 
same rule. Lambinus reads D^et tota eadem mundi natura putari^ 
which is easier to be understood. A little below, in "both gener- 
ated and mortal," (morttzlia et nativa aimul,) I have transposed the 

• Is washed off by showers.] Ver. 256. Ad diluviem revocatur Im- 
bribus. " Is turned into Iwater.'* Creech. 

B. V. 259—280. LUCKETIUS. 203 

own part, diminished ; and since the earth, which is the 
parent of all things, seems, without doubt, to be the common 
sepulchre of all things ; the earth, therefore, you may be as- 
sured, is wasted, and is recruited and grows again. 

Further, there is no need of words to show that the sea, 
rivers, and fountains abound with new liquid, and that waters 
flow incessantly into the ocean; for the vast deflux of streams 
from all sides declares it; but we must observe, above all 
things, that a certain portion of the water is carried off, and 
that it happens at last that there is no superabundance ^ of 
water ; for first that part w removed which the strong winds, 
sweeping the ocean, and the ethereal sun, dispelling it with 
his rays, subtract yrow its surface; and next that part which 
is distributed through all the earth underneath. For the salt 
is strained off vn its passage through the ground, and the dub- 
stance of the water flows back, and all meets, her^ and there, 
at the sources of rivers ; whence it flows, in a fresh stream, 
over the earth, wherever a passage, once cut, has borne 
along the waters in their liquid course.^ 

I shall now, therefore, observe concerning the air, that it 
is changed,' every hour, in innumerable ways. For whatever 
is perpetually passing off from bodies, is all carried into the 
vast ocean of air ; and unless it were to restore particles back 
to those bodies, and to recruit them as their substance passes 
away, all things would by this time have been dissolved and 
converted into air. It accordingly does not cease to be per- 

* That a certain portion of the water is carried off, and that it 
happens, at last, that there is no superabundance, Sjc,] Ver. 265. 

Quicquid aquai' 
Tollitur, in summ&que fit ut nihil humor abundet. 

Quicquid is for quidque^ as Lambinus and Creech expound it. In 
8ummd^ says Wakefield, is ** tandem, denique, post eventus omnes.'* 

* Wherever a passage, once cut, lias borne along the waters in 
their liquid course.] Ver. 273. 

Qua via secta semel liquido pede dettdit undaa, 

Lambinus notices the easy flow of this verse, and observes how well 
it is adapted to the subject. Lucretius repeats it, vi. 639. We may 
compare with it a line of Cowley, called by Johnson an " example 
of representative versification wnich perhaps no other English line 
can equal." 

Which runSf and as it runs, for ever sJidU run on. 
» That it is changed.] Ver. 274. Quid—mutatur^^'' QuaUter, how.'* 

204 LUCEETIUS. 11. V. 281—311. 

petuaHy generated from bodies, and perpetually to return 
back to bodies ; since it is agreed that all things are in con- 
stant flux. 

The ethereal sun, too, the great fountain of liquid light, 
floods the heaven perpetually with new brightness, and in- 
stantly supplies with a new ray the place of the ray that has 
passed off. For wha.tever brightness it first setids forthy is, 
wherever it falls, lost to it. This you may collect from hence, 
that as soon as clouds have begun to come over the sun, and, 
«s it were, to break through the rays of light, all the lower 
part of these rays is immediately lost, 2^nd the earth, wherever 
the clouds pass, is overshadowed ; so that you may understand 
that things constantly require a fresh supply of light, and 
that every first emission of radiance is dispersed ; nor could 
objects otherwise be seen in the sunshine, unless the fountain 
of Ught itself furnished a perpetual supply. 

Even your nocturnal torches, which are things of earth, 
your hanging lamps, and tapers, brilHant with waving flames, 
and showing themselves fat with abundance of smoke, are im- 
pelled,^ in a similar manner, by the agency of heat, to emit 
new radiance; they incessantly discharge their tremulous 
rays ;^ they never cease ; nor does the light, as if broken off, 
leave the place dark. So swiftly is the destruction of that 
flame hastened from all its rays, through the rapid origination 
and emission of new particles. Thus, too, we must suppose 
that the sun, and moon, and stars throw off their light through 
successive generations of beams,^ and perpetually lose what- 
ever rays are first to pass from them; so that you must not 
by any means suppose that these bodies maintain imperishable 

Do you not see, moreover, that even stones are overcome 
by time ? I>o you not observe that lofty towers fall, and that 
rocks decay ? Do you not notice that the temples and images 
of the gods, overcome with age^ open in fissures ; and that the 
sacred deities themselves cannot extend the limits of fate, or 
struggle against the laws of nature ? 

* Are impelled.] Ver. 298. Properant, 

* They incessantly discharge their tremulous rays.] Ver. 299. 
Tremere ignibus instant. "Tremulos radios spargunt." Creech. 

* Through successive generations of besuna.'] Ver. 804. Ex alio 
atque alio mbortu. The sense is evident. 

B. V. 312—331. LUCRETIUS. 205 

Besides, do we not see that the monuments of heroes fall ? 
You might even believe that they desire for themselves a time 
to grotv- old.^ Do we not observe that flints crumble from the 
lofty mountains, and cannot endure and withstand the powerful 
force of even a finite age ? For if they were bodies which, 
through infinite ages, had sustained all the assaults of time, and 
contintied exempt from dissolution, they would not now sud- 
denly be broken away and fall to pieces. 

Further, contemplate this heaven around and above us, 
which contains all the earth in its embrace ; it produces, aJs 
some say, all things from itself, and receives all things, when 
dissolved, into itself. But it was a generated body, and con- 
sists wholly of perishable substance. For whatever increases 
and nourishes other things from itself, must by that means be 
. diminished, and must be recruited by receiving^ into itself 
fresh substances. 

In addition, if there was no origin of the heavens and earth 
from generation, and if they existed from all eternity, how is 
it that other poets, before the time of the Theban war, and the 
destruction of Troy, have not also sung of other exploits of 
the inhabitants of earth f How have the actions of so many 
men thus from time to time fallen into oblivion f How is it 
that they no where survive in remembrance, and are no where 
stamped on everlasting monuments of fame ? 

But, as I am of opinion, the whole of the world is of com- 
paratively modern date, and recent in its Origin ; and had its 

* You might even believe that they desire for themselves a 
time to grow old.] Ver. 314. QueBrere proporro nbi gttomque senescere 
credos, Senescere, " to grow old," guomque, " at some time or other." 
Cttnque, as in Horace, (Od. i. 32, 15,) Mihi cunque salve Ritl precantt, 
Wakefield interprets it gtiocunque modo : " Credas — dato quasi studio 
ad senectutem properanter contendere, quocunque tandem modo." 
But it seems better to understand it of time than of manner ; for the 
mode in which buildings decay has been expressed four lines above. 
Proporro I join with credas^ m the sense of' porroy pratereat etiam. 
Lambinus read, from conjecture^ Cedere proporrot suhitoque senescere 
easu. Lachmann, also from conjecture, gives Quae fore proporro veti- 
tumque senescere credas, and alters the passage in Horace to medicum- 
que salve Rite vocanii. The verse of Horace is probably faulty, (for, 
as Bentley observes, there is no example to support it,) but whether 
Lachmann has found the right metnod of amending it, may be 

^ By receiving, ^c] Ver. 324. Quum recipit res. Creech inter- 
prets "cum ist€ts res dissolutas recipit." 


206 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 332—357. 

beginning but a short time ago. From which cause, also, some 
arts are but now being refined, and are even at present on the 
increase ; many improvements are in this age added to ships ; 
musicians have but recently produced melodious sounds. This 
nature and system of the world, too, of which iHerite, has been 
but lately discovered ; and I myself, among the first discover- 
efSy have been found the first /we^* that could express it in 
the language of my country. 

But if, perchance, you suppose that all these arts^ formerly 
existed the same as at present, but that generations of men have 
perished by burning fire, or that cities have fallen by some 
great catastrophe of the world, or that violent rivers, through 
continual rains, have inundated the earth, and overwhelmed 
' cities, you must so much the more, being convinced bi/ these 
facts,^ admit that there will probably be also a destruction of 
the earth and the heaven. For, since things were afiected and 
shaken by so great disorders, and so great dangers, if a more 
serious cause had then pressed upon them, they might univers- 
ally have suffered destruction and mighty ruin. Nor do we, 
who now live, appear to be mortal one like another, by any 
other inference than that we sicken with diseases similarly* 
to those whom nature has removed from life. 

Further, whatsoever bodies remain eternal,^ must either, as 
being of a solid consistence, repel assaults, and suffer nothing 
to penetrate them that can disunite their compact parts 
within ; (sttch as are the primary-particles of matter, the na- 
ture of which we have already shown ;) or they must be able 

^ Among the first discoverers, have been found the first poet, &:c.'\ 
Ver. 337- Primus cum primis ipse repertus, Wakefield gives this 
comment : " His primis renim repertoribus ego quoque sum reper- 
tor annumerandus." With primus I understand poeta. 

* All these arts,] Ver. 339. I have adopted arts from Creech. 

* So much the more, being convinced by these facts^ ^c."] Ver. 344. 
Tanto quique magis victus fateare necesse est, Quigue is Wakefield's read- 
ing, and stands, he says, " according to the practice of good writers," 
for quisquis or quicunque. As it could only be rendered in English 
by whoever you are^ or some such awkward phrase, I have left it out. 
Other editions, except Lachmann, have quippe. 

* Sicken with diseases similarly, ilsc.~\ Ver. 350. Morbis ag^'escimus 
idem Atque olli^ 8^^., \, e. toe the same sicketi with diseases, <S,r. Lanibinus 
reads morbis — tsdem, 

* Further, whatsoever bodies remain eternal, S^c.~\ Ver. 352. 
Twenty-three verses are here repeated from iii. 807, seq. 

B.y. 358— 384, LUCRETIUS, 207 

to endure throughout all time, because they are exempt from 
assaults, or unsusceptible of them; (as is a vacuum, which re- 
mains intangible, and suffers nothing from impact ;) or thet/ 
must be indestructible for this reason, that there is no suffici- 
ency of space round about, into which substances may, as it 
were, separate and be dissolved (as the entire universe is 
eternal, incismuch as there is neither any space without it, 
into which its parts may disperse ; nor are there any bodies 
which may fall upon it, and break it to pieces by violent con- 
cussion). But, as I have demonstrated, neither is the nature 
of this world of a solid consistence, since in all compound 
bodies vacuity is mixed; nor is it like vacuity itself; nor, 
again, are bodies wanting, which, rising fortuitously from the 
infinite of space, may overthrow the sum of things with 
a violent tempest, or bring upon it some other kind, whatever 
it may be, of disaster and danger ; nor, moreover, is vastness 
and profundity of space wanting, into which the walls of the 
world may be scattered, or, assaulted by some other kind of 
force, may be dissolved. The gate of death, therefore, is not 
closed to the heaven, or to the sun, or to the earth, or to the 
deep waters of the sea, but stands open, and looks back for 
them, with a mighty and huge abyss. 

For which reason, smce these existing things are dissoluble, 
you must necessarily allow that they are generated of indisso- 
luble elements; for bodies which are of mortal consistence, 
could not have been able, from all eternity, to contemn till 
jiow the strong assaults of infinite time. 

Furthermore, since the great divisions of the world ^ are per- 
petually contending, and are stirred up in implacable warfare 
• against each other, do you not see that some end to their 
long contest may be assigned ? And this end may take place, 
either when the sun, and heat in general, having drunk up all 

* Th£ great divisions of the world.] Ver. 381. Maxima mundi 
membra. Fire and water. " Many philosophers imagine that the 
elements themselves may be in time exhausted ; that the sun, by 
shining long, will effuse all its light; and that by the continual 
waste of aqueous particles, the whole earth will at last become a 
sandy desert. I would not advise my readers to disturb themselves 
by contriving how they shall live witnout light and water. For the 
days of universal thirst and perpetual darkness are at a great dis- 
tance. ^ The ocean and the sun will last our time, and we may leave 
posterity to shift for themselves." Johnson, Idler, No. 3. 

208 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 385-419. 

the moisture, shall have become supreme ; a consummation^ in- 
deed^ which they endeavour to effect, but cannot yet accom- 
plish their designs ; so much do rivers supply, and so con- 
Mantly do the waters threaten, even of their own power, to 
deluge all things from the deep gulf of the ocean ; {but their 
threats are vain ; for winds, sweeping the floods, and the ethe- 
real sun, dispelling them with his rays, diminish their hulk, 
and seem to trust that they can dry up all things before the 
waters can attain the conjpletion of their design ;) maintain- 
ing so great a "^ar, they p^:^ist to strive with one another for 
their great objects, and to contend^ as it seems, with equal 
efforts ; though, as is reported, fire was once superior on the 
earth, and water once reigned triumphant over the plains. 

For fire prevailed, and burnt and consumed many parts, 
when the erring and impetuous fury of the sun's horses hur- 
ried Phaethon through the whole heaven and over the entire 
earth. But the omnipotent Father, incensed with fierce rage, 
hurled Phaethon from his chariot to the earth by the sudden 
stroke of a thunderbolt ; and the Sun, meeting him as he fell, 
caught up the eternal lamp of the world, brought back his 
scattered horses, and yoked them trembling to the car; 
and, guiding them in their own path, restored and re-organ- 
ized all things. This, you must be aware, is the story which 
the poets of the Greeks sung, but which is too far removed 
from truth and reason. For fire may have the superiority, 
when more atoms than usual of igneous matter have collected 
from the infinite ofspa^e; but afterwards its strength, being by 
)3ome means repressed, necessarily subsides ; else all things, 
burned up by a scorching atmosphere, would utterly perish. 

Once, too, as tradition tells, water having-risen-in-a-body,* 
began to have the mastery ; at which period it overwhelmed 
numbers of mankind with its waves ; but subsequently, when 
its strength, (which had risen from the infinite profound,) was 
in some way turned aside and repelled, the rains came to a 
stand, and the rivers diminished their violence. 

But I shall now proceed to relate, in due course, how the 
combination of matter^ established the heaven and the earth, 
the depths of the sea, and the revolutions of the sun and moon. 

* Once, too, — water having risen-in-a-body, tjsc.'] Ver. 412. Humor 

item qnmidam ccepit snperare coorttu. Alluding to the Hood of Deucalion . 

2 But how the combination of matter, 4r<^.] Ver. 417. Sed 

t. ▼. 420—447. LUCRETIUS. 209 

For assuredly neither the primary elements of things dis- 
posed themselves severally in their own order by wisdom or 
counsel arising from a sagacious understanding ; nor, certainly, 
did they agree among themselves what motions each should 
produce ; but because the primordial atoms of the world, being 
many, were agitated by concussions, in many ways, through 
an infinite space of time, and were accustomed to be carried 
forward by their own weights, and to combine in all modes, 
and to try all efforts, as if to ascertain whichsoever of them, 
meeting together, might give birth to some offspring, it from 
this cause happens that, being spread abroad during a vast 
period of duration, and attempting all kinds of combinations 
and movements, those at length came together, which, having 
suddenly coalesced, became at first, and become ncwy from 
time to time, the commencements of great productions,^ the 
origin of the earth, the sea, and the heaven, and of every kind 
of living creatures. 

Here, at that time, could be seen neither the chariot of the 
sun, fiying on high with its abundant light, nor the stars of the 
great firmament, nor the sea, nor the heaven, nor the earth, 
nor the air ; nor could any thing be didoemed similar to our 
present objects, but only a certain crude agitation of matter, 
and a congeries swelling up together. Afterwards the parts 
began to separate ; and similar things d«^an to be united with 
similar, and to evolve the world, and display its parts, and 
arrange its different members, which were generated from all 
kinds of primordial atoms; whose intervals, courses, con- 
nexions, weights, impulses, combinations, and motions. Dis- 
cord, exciting war amongst ^lem, (from the disagreement of 
their forms and the variety of their shapes,) had disturbed ; 
on which account they could not remain all so united, or pro- 
duce sttch suitable motions among themselves, a* should lead 
to the objects which they were to effect; that is, to divide the 

quibttt iUe modia conjectut materiait 8ic» *' He now proceeds to explain 
how the world was formed from atoms, which move without design, 
and without any certain law. This account of the formation of the 
world, and its various parts, corresponds almost exactly with that 
which is stated by Plutarch [respecting the doctrines of Epicunu] 
in his first book Js PlaoiH» Philoaophorum.** Lambinut, 

* Become notOy from time to time, the commencements of ffreat 
productions.] Ver. 431. Magnartun rerumjiunt exordia saps, I nave 
rendered sape " from time to time." Faber read nempe, 


210 LUCRETIUS. B.v. 448-478. 

high heaven from the earth, and to cause that the sea and 
other water should spread abroad separately, and that the stars 
of heaven should shine by themselves pure and distinct. 

For, in the first place, the several atoms of earth, because 
they were heavy, and involved one tvith another, met all to- 
gether in the middle, and took, as it were, the lowest place ;* 
which atomSf the more closely they cohered, tiie more effectu- 
ally they excluded yrom themselves those particles which were 
to form the sea, the stars, the sun and the moon, and the walls 
of this great world. For all these latter parts of nature con- 
sist of more smooth and round particles, and of atoms much 
more diminutive, than the earth ; and, accordingly, the fiery 
ether, bursting forth from the several parts, through the small 
pores of the earth, first raised itself on high, and, being light, 
carried with it much fire ; by a process similar to what we 
often witness, when, in the morning, the golden rays of the 
beaming sun first blush over the grass gemmed with dew, 
and when the slxignant lakes, and ever-flowing rivers, exhale 
a mist, and earth itself sometimes appears to smoke ; all which 
vapours, when they are united in the height above us, cover 
the heaven in an apparently condensed body. So, too, at 
that time, the light and expanded ether, diffused around in a 
• united mass, collected itself; and thus, being widely extended 
in every direction, enclosed all other things in its vast embrace.^ 

To \\n^ formation of the ether succeeded the rise of the sun 
and moon, and of those bodies whose orbs revolve in the air 
between both ; bodies which neither the earth nor the vast 
ether attracted to itself, because they were neither so heavy 
as to sink down to the earth, nor so light as to glide in the 
highest regions ; and yet they so exist between both, that they 
revolve as active bodies,^ and are a part of the entire world. 

* Met all together in the middle, and took, as it were, the lowest 
place.] Ver. 452. Coibant In medio atque imas capiebant omnia sedes. 
" Met and sunk down in the middle, which is the lowest place." 
Lambinus. But how it happened that the atoms found a spot in which 
they might settle as a centre or lowest place, when he had previously 
asserted (i. 1070, seq.) that all bodies must alike be carried forwards 
through all parts of space, Lucretius does not explain. Ovid, in 
his account of the fonnation of the world, omits all allusion to a 
centre from which that formation commenced. 

' Vast embrace.] Ver. 471. Avido complexu, Comp. ver. 202. 

• Active bodies.] Ver. 477. Corpora viva. In giving this sense 
to viva, I follow Lambinus. 

B. V. 479—609. LUCRETIUS. 211 

As, in our own bodies, some members may remain at rest, 
whilst others are still in motion. 

Tiiese substances, therefore, being withdrawn, the earth, 
where the vast blue region of the sea now spreads, suddenly 
sunk down, and hollowed out depths by means of the salt 
flood ; and in proportion as, day after day, the surrounding 
tide of air, and the warm rays of the sun, urged the earth 
(lying exposed even to its extreme bounds) with frequent im- 
pulses, so that, being thtts acted upon, it might collect in con-r 
densation towards its own centre, so much the more the salt 
fluid, pressed out from its body, increased with its flood the 
sea and the liquid plains ; and so much more the numerous 
particles of heat and air, escaping forth /rom other substances^ 
flew upwards^ and formed, afar from the earth, the lofty and 
shining temples of the sky. The plains sunk down, and the 
slopes of the high mountains increased ; for such inequality was 
inevitable ; as the rocks could neither subside, nor could all 
parts of the ground settle to the same level. Thus, then, the 
heavy-mass of the earth, with condensed bulk, stood firm ; 
and all the heavy grossness of the world, as it were, collected 
to the bottom, and sunk down like dregs into the deep. 

Then the sea, the air, and the fiery ether itself, which were 
of liquid consistence, were all left pure ; and of these bodies 
some were lighter than others, and the ether, being of the 
greatest subtlety and levity, floats above the breezes of the 
air, nor allows its clear substance to mingle with the matters 
that disturb the aerial regions ; it leaves all these lotoer parts 
to be swept with violent whirlwinds ; it leaves them to be 
disturbed with tumultuous storms ; whilst itself, gliding with 
settled impulse, bears along its own fires. For that the ether 
may revolve thus steadily, and with uniform tenor, the flood 
in the Euxine shows, ^ which moves with a settled flux, pre- 
serving one unvaried direction in its course. 

* The flood in the Euxine shows.] Ver. 508. Sigtnificat Ponto 
mare. Mare Ponto, for mare Ponti, says Wakefield: for in PontOj 
says Forbiger. " That the ether may glide perpetually onwards, he 
seeks to prove from the constant flow of the rontus Euxinus into 
the Thracian Bosphorus, the Propontis, and the Hellespont, with- 
out any reflux." Faber. Wakefield aptly cites Seneca, Nat. Qusest. 
iv. 2. " The Pontus flows rapidl}' and constantly into the sea below: 
not, like other seas, with tides^ alternating in opposite direction^, 
but with a current always nmning strongly in the same course." 

p 2 

212 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 510—533. 

Let US now state what is the cause of the motion of the 
stars. In the first place, if the great orb of heaven whirls 
round, we must admit that air presses and urges the sky on 
either side, and confines it externally, and encloses it in each 
direction ; then that another body of air flows over our heads, 
and tends in the same directum in which the bright stars of 
the eternal world roll ; ^ and that there is still other air beneath 
ourfeety^ which carries along the heaven in the opposite direc- 
tion, as we see running streams turn wheels and buckets. 

It is likewise possible that the whole heaven may remain 
stationary, though the bright constellations are nevertheless 
borne along ; whether because active tides of ether are con- 
fined within the shy, and, seeking an outlet, whirl themselves 
round, and roll with them the stars through the vast regions 
of heaven ; or whether air, flowing from some quarter with- 
out, wheels and impels the stars ; or whether they of them- 
selves can move forward, whither the sustenance of each 
attracts^ and invites them, while pursuing their course, and re- 
cruiting their igneous substances every where throughout the 
heavens. For which of these causes prevails in this world, it 
is diflicult to lay down as certain ; but I demonstrate only what 
is possible, and may be eflected, throughout the universe, in 
various worlds, formed in various ways,* and seek to assign 
several causes for the motions of the stars ; which causes may 
operate, in different parts, through the whole of things; but 
of which one must necessarily be this very cause, that produces 
motion in our stars ; though to decide which of them it is, is 

'In which the bright stars of the eternal world roll.] Ver. 515. 
Quo volvunda mieant atemi tidera mtmdi. He uses the word eternal as 
a poet, not as a philosopher. 

* Beneath our feet,'] Ver. 516. Subter. " Sub terrft, et sub pedibus 
nOstris." Lambinus, See below, ver. 636, seq. 

' Whither the sustenance of each attracts^ ^c] Ver. 525. Quo 
cujusque cibus vocat cUque invitat, " Some other philosophers, besides 
Epicurus, thought that the sun, and the other celestial bodies, were 
fed by the vapours arising from the sea and the earth. See Cic. de 
Nat. Deor. lib. ii. Virg. ^n. i. 612, Polusdum aidera pasceV* Lam- 
binwy ad i. 232. "This was a notion, not only of Epicurus, but of the 
Stoics. See Plutarch de Placit. Pnilosoph. Ana you will find in- 
dications of this opinion even before the age of Zeno." Fdbery ibid. 

* In various worlds, formed in various ways.] Ver. 529. In variis 
mundiSj varia rations creatis. That there are more worlds than ours, 
he shows to be probable, ii. 1052, teq. 

B. V. 634—664. LUCRETIUS. 2 1 3 

by no means the part of a man proceeding, like myself, cau- 
tumsly^ and step by step. 

And that the earth may rest in the middle^ part of the 
world, it is necessary that its weight should gradually, as it 
werey become evanescent and imperceptible,^ and that it should 
have another substance beneath it, united with it from its 
earliest age, and closely connected with the aerial parts of the 
world, in which it was produced and continues to live. The 
earth is, therefore, no burden to the air, nor at aU depresses it ; 
just as his limbs are no burden to a man ; and^W^ as the head 
is no burden to the neck ; nor do we feel the whole weight of 
the body press upon the feet. But whatever weights fall upon 
us, and are laid upon us, externally, hurt or armoy us^ although 
they are often far less than those which are within t^; of so great 
importance it is to understand what one thing can effect by 
union with another. The earth, accordingly, was not brought 
into this world suddenly, as a foreign body^ and cast, from some 
other quarter, upon air that was strange to itj but was produced 
together with the rest of the world, and as a regular part of it, at 
its first origin ; just as our members are seen to he formed 
with us. 

Besides, the earth, when shaken with violent thunder, imme- 
diately shakes all things which are above it with its motion ; 
an effect which it could by no means produce, unless it were 
combined with the aerial parts of the world, and with the 

* And that the earth may rest in the middle, S^cJ] Ver. 636. 
Terraque ut in medid mundi regume quieseat, &c. ** It may reasonably 
be asked how the earth, when Lucretius so often speaks of its weight, 
can remain in the middle of the air ; and why it does not leave its 
position, and sink into the infinite void. To this the poet answers, 
that though the air alone surrounds the earth, yet that, as the earth 
and air are closely connected, and have been from their origin parts 
of the same whole, the earth is in consequence no burden to the air, 
but rests upon it as if all its gp*avity were laid aside. But the case 
would be otherwise if the earth had been brought into this world 
from another ; for then its weight would be felt by the air as that of 
a foreign body ; as we, in regard to our own bodies, feel even a 
small substance that lies upon them externally, though neither the 
head, nor the other members of the body, are a burden to one an- 
other ; inasmuch as they are couReneous, and bound by a common 
law of connexion. Epicurus, in his Epistle to Herodotus, says, r^v 
yijv T(f 'Aept kiroxMSrai «c ovyyivri" Creech. 

^ Become evanescent and imperceptible.] Ver. 636. Evaneacere — 
et decrescere. 

214 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 555-582. 

heaven ; for they cohere by common connexions one with the 
other, conjoined and coalescing in union, from the earliest 

Do you not observe, also, how exquisitely subtle a sub- 
stance of the soul sustains the body, which is of great weight, 
simply because it is so closely united and combined with it ? 
What power, too, but that of the soul, which governs the limbs, 
can raise the body with a vigorous leap /row the ground? 

Do you now understand how much force a subtle sub- 
stance may have, when it is united with a heavy body, as the 
air is joined with the earth, and the power of the soul with 
ourselves ? 

Nor can the circumference of the sun be much greater, or 
its fire less,^ than it appears to our senses. For from what- 
ever distances fires can throw their rays, and cast a warm 
heat upon our bodies, the ejection of the heat from those dis- 
tances detracts nothing from the bulk of the igneous matter, 
and the fire is not at all more contracted to the view. Since, 
therefore, the heat of the sun, and its effused light, reach to 
our senses, and the parts about us shine with its rays, the 
form and outline of the sun must, on this account, appear as 
it really is, so that you can add nothing more to it, or make it 

And the moon, whether, as she glides through the sky, she illu- 
minates its regions with a borrowed light, or whether she sends 
forth radiance from her own body ; whichsoever is the case, 
she is, as she pursues her course, of no larger a dimension ^ than 
she appears to our eyes as we observe her. For all objects 
which, being far remote from us, we view through a large 
body of air, look confused in their appearance, before their out- 
line seems at all diminished. For which reason the moon, 
since it presents a clear shape and defined outline, (as it does 

* Nor can the circumference of the sun be much greater, or its 
fire less, B^cJ] Ver. 567. Nee nimio solU major rota^ nee minor ardor 
esse potest. All that is meant is, that the sun cannot be much 
greater or much less than it appears to us. *' An irrational and ab- 
surd opinion of Epicurus," says Lambinus. 

* She is of no larger a dimension, 4rc.J Ver. 578. Nihilofertwr 

majors figurA^ Qttdm fiostris oculis, qud cemimtts, esse videtur. The or- 
der and construction, says Wakefield, is this ; " Fertur figurii nihilo 
majore, qu^m ea figura, qu& earn cernimus jigura, videtur esse nos- 
tris oculis." 

B.y. 583-611. LUCRETIUS. 215 

whenever its outmost edges ^ are observed,) must hence appear 
to us in the sky just as large as it is.^ 

Further, whatsoever stars in the heavens you view from 
hence, can, assuredly, be (yrdy very little less, or onJy very little 
larger,^ than they appear ; since of whatsoever fires we see 
on the earth, even whilst the motion of their light is plain, and 
their glow is clearly perceived, the outline seems at times to 
vary in one way or other, contracting or expanding^ according 
as it is more or less distant. 

It is not, moreover, a matter of wonder, how so small a 
body as the sun can emit so large a quantity of light, as to 
cover with its flood the seas, the whole earth, and the heavens, 
and to pervade all things with its quickening heat. Since it 
is possible that one fountain of the light of the whole world, 
opened from hence, may flow forth abundantly, and scatter its 
radiance abroad ; ^ because the atoms of heat, we may suppose^ 
so meet together here from all parts of the world, and their 
assemblage forms such a floQd, that aU this heat may flow 
from one source. For do you not observe, too, how small a 
spring of water sometimes irrigates the meadows far and wide, 
and flows exuberantly over the fields ? 

It is also possible that heat may pervade the air with a 
strong glow from no v^ry great fire in the sun, if, perchance, 
the air be so tempered and disposed as to be excited to warmth, 
though afifected with but gentle fervour ; as we sometimes see 
fire, from one spark, spread in all directions among corn-fields 
and straw. 

And, perhaps, the sun, shining on high with its rosy light, 
contains about it much heat in secret stores-of-fire, which, 
though It be distinguished by no brightness, yet, retaining a 

* As it does whenever its outmost edges, 4fc.] Ver. 583. Ut est ori$ 
extremis quomque notata — i. e. whenever it is noted as to its outmost 

' Just as large as it is.] Ver. 584. Quantaqtie quanta est, hinc nobis 
videatur, in alto. There are various readings of this passage. The 
present, which is Eichstadt*s, cannot, though adoptea by Forbiger, 
and even Lachmann, be right ; for what is me use of the qtie t Lam- 
bin us reads, Quanta quoqtte Jubc fuvat^ tanta hinc videatur in alto, Fu- 
vat for sit or fuertt; which Preigerus approves. 

* Only very little larger.] Ver. 59L ExiguA majores parte brevique, 

* Scatter its radiance abroad.] Ver. 597. Erumpere lumen. ** Erum'^ 
pere," with an active signification. 

216 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 612—638. 

glow, increases the force of the rays to such a degree as we 

Nor does the law of the sun's motion appear plain and evi- 
dent, nor is it demonstrable how he passes from his sunmier 
regions to the wintry part of his course in Capricorn, and 
how, coming back from thence, he turns to the solstitial 
points ; nor do we understand how the moon seems to traverse 
that space in each month, in passing through which the sun 
occupies the period of a year ; a plain reason, I say, has not 
been assigned for these phsenomena. 

For, in the first place, that appears possible which the ven- 
erable opinion of the philosopher Democritus asserts; that 
the nearer each of the heavenly bodies is to the earth, the 
less swiftly can they be carried round by the revolution of 
the heaven ; since the rapid and strong force of the upper 
sky decreases and loses its power beneath ; and that, accord- 
ingly, the sun, with the lower constellations following it,^ is 
gradually left behind, because it is much beneath the fiery 
signs ;^ also that the moon, from this same cause, falls back so 
much the more, for the more distant its course, being lower, 
is from the heaven, and approaches to the earth, the less can 
it exert its swiftness with the signs. Since the more gentle 
is the speed with which the moon, being lower than the sun, 
is borne along, the more easily all the signs arOund overtake 
it, and are carried past it. Hence it happens, that the moon 
seems to return more quickly to each sign, because the signs 
return towards it. 

It is possible, also, that two currents of air, at a certain 
season, may blow in turns' from opposite quarters of the 
world ; of which currents one may be that which drives the sun 

^ With the lower constellations following it.'] Ver. 626. Cum pos- 
terioribua signit. " Cum signis sequentibus." Creech. 

* Fiery signs.] Ver. 627. Fervtda signa : which Creech interprets 
" summa signa. 

— ^ whence the sun 
And solar satellites must more and more 
Be backwards left, deserted, since full deep 
Lie they beneath the blue ethereal fires. Good. 

* Two currefits of air, — may blow in turns, ^c] Ver. 636. Aer 
Altemis certo fluere alter tempore poeeit. Aer alter for dtto or bint acres. 
^' Duos aeres luns solique inservientes introducit." Creech, ad 
ver. 613. 

B. V. 639-668. LUCBETIUS. 217 

from the summer signs into the winter part of his course, and 
into freezing cold ; and the other may he ^Ao^ which sends him 
back from the freezing shades of cold into the warm regions 
and glowing constellations. And, in like manner, we may 
suppose that the moon, and the stars, which revolve for long 
years in vast orbits, may move by means of two currents of 
air in opposite directions. Do you not notice, also, that clouds, 
by means of opposite winds, go in different ways, the lower 
contrary to the upper ? And why, therefore, may not these 
heavenly bodies be borne through the vast circuits of the sky 
by currents opposed to each other ? 

But the reason why night ^ covers the earth^ with its great 
darkness, is either hecattse the light grows weak when the sun^ 
afler his long course, has reached the extremity of the heaven, 
and has sent forth his fires languidly, as being exhausted with 
the journey,^ and wasted by passing through a lon^ tract of 
air ; or because the same force, which carried the solar orb 
above the earth, compels it to turn its course beneath the earth. 

Matuta, also, the goddess of the morning, leads forth the rosy 
Aurora, and spreads abroad the light, at a certain hour, either 
because the same sun, which was under the earth, returning 
again, aspires to the heaven, proceeding to enlighten it with 
his rays; or because, at that particular time, bodies of fire 
congregate, and many atoms of heat are accustomed to meet 
in confiuence, which cause a new light of the sun to be per- 
petually produced. Thus it is said, that from the lofty hills 
of Ida ^ the rays of the sun, when his light rises in the east, are 
seen dispersed, and that they afterwards collect, as it were, 
into one body, and form a complete orb. 

Nor ought it, in such phsenomena, to be a subject of won- 
der, that these atoms of fire can thus flow together, and re- 
new the splendour of the sun, at a certain time. For we 
observe many other things which take place at a certain time 

' But the reason why night, §•<?.] Ver. 649. He now begins to ex- 
plain the causes of day and night. 
' Exhausted with the journey.] Ver. 652. Coneutsoe itere, 
» Thus— from the lofty hills of Ida, 4rc.] Ver. 662. Quod genus IdaU 
fama est e montibus, S^c, This phsenomenon is mentioned by Diod. 
Sic. xvii. 7, and by Pomponius Mela, de Situ Orbis, v. 6. It was 
probably some atmosphenc illusion. Quod genus is for quemadmodwn, 
as in several other places. 

218 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 669—702. 

in all departments of nature; the groves flourish at a certain 
time, and at a certain time drop their verdure. At a certain 
time, also, age directs the teeth to be shed ; and causes the 
immature youth to bloom with soft down, and to let the flexible 
beard, too, descend from his cheeks. Lightnings, moreover, 
snow, rain, cloudy weather, and winds, take place at seasons 
of the year by no means uncertain. For since the first com- 
mencement of causes thus arose, and the affairs of the world 
thus proceeded, as at present, from their earliest origin, 
every event is a consequence in the unvarying course of 

That the days also increase while the nights grow shorter, 
and that the days are diminished in length when the nights 
become augmented, may possibly happen, either because the 
same sun, revolving below and above the earth, divides the 
regions of the air vdth unequal curves, and distinguishes the 
orb of heaven into dissimilar parts, while, whatever it has 
taken from one part of it, it adds, as it revolves, just so much 
to the opposite part, until it has come to that sign in the 
heavens where the node of the year* makes the darkness of 
night equal to the light of day : (for the heaven has tioo sepa- 
rate points, at equal distances, where the courses of the north 
vrind and the south meet \^ owing to the position of the w^hole 
circle of the zodiac, in which the revolving sun consumes the pe- 
riod of the year, illumining the earth and the sky with oblique 
light, — as the system of those declares who have observed that 
whole region of the heaven which is distinguished by the array 
of the twelve signs :) or, because the air is denser in certain 
parts, the tremulous rays of light are therefore retarded, and 
cannot easily penetrate it and emerge to the dawn ; for which 
reason the nights in the winter delay long, until the bright 
herald of day ^ returns : or, again, because, at alternate seasons 
of the year, the atoms of flame, which cause the sun to rise* in 

* Node of the year.] Ver. 687. Nodus anni. " He means the 
equinoxes." Faber. 

* Where the courses — meet.] Ver. 688. Medio cursu flatus Aquilonis 
et Austri. 

* Herald of day.] Ver. 699. Imigne diei, "The sun." Faher. 

* Cause the sun to rise, §*c.] Ver. 702. Faciunt solem certd desur- 
gere parte. Or, as Lambinus and others have it, certd de surgere. I 
wonder that none of the critics have suspected Lucretius to have 
written fulgere rather than surgere. 

B. V. 703— 727. LUCRETIUS. 219 

a particular part of the heavens at a particular time, are ac- 
customed to congregate slower or faster. 

As for the moon, she may shine because she is struck with 
the rays of the sun, and may turn towards us every day a 
larger portion of light in her aspect, as she recedes farther 
from the sun's orb, until, being opposite to him, she has shone 
forth with fullest splendour, and, rising on high in the east, has 
beheld his setting in the west; thence, also, retiring back- 
wards, she may, as it were, hide her light gradually, as she 
approaches from the opposite «ide, along the circle^f the 
zodiac, nearer to the sun's radiance ; as those philosophers 
suppose, who make the moon to be in shape like a ball, and to 
pursue her path of revolution beneath the sun ; [awdf hence 
it happens that they seepa to say what is true.]^ 

There is also a hypothesis by which the moon may revolve 
and present various phases of brightness, with her own light. 
For it is possible that there may be another body, which moves 
and advances^ together with her, and which in every way ob- 
structs and hinders her lights but nevertheless cannot be seen, 
as it passes along in total darkness. 

And the moon may possibly revolve upon her axis, like a 
balP tinged with shining light only on one side, and may, by 
turning her orb, present to us her various phases. Thus, pro- 
gressively, she turns that part which is illuminated, so as to 
behold us with full aspect and open eye ;* then, by degrees, 
she turns away and removes from us the brilliant side of her 
orb ;* as, indeed, the Babylonish doctrine of the Cbaldseans 
taught, which, refuting the method of the Greek astrologers^ 

' And hence it happens that they seem to say what is true.] 
Ver. 713. ProtereaJU uti videantur dicere verum. This verse, which is 
regarded by Forbiger as suspicious, and enclosed in brackets, might 
very well be spared. 

^ Another body, which moves and advances, is^J] Ver. 716. This, 
says Lambinus, was the opinion of Anaximander ; but Creech ob- 
serves that there is no proof of his having held such an opinion. 

' And the moon may— revolve — ^like a ball.] Ver. 719. This was 
the doctrine of Berosus, as is observed by Vitruvius, ix. 4. 

* So as to behold us with full aspect and open eye.] Ver. 728. 
Ad speciem — nobis oculosque patentee. This is translated according to 
Wakefield's interpretation, who says that previous commentators 
had thought that the face and eyes cf the spectator were meant. 

* Of her orb.] Ver. 725. Olomeraminie atque pilai. As both words 
have the same meaning, I have thought it sufficient to translate one. 

220 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 728—753. 

labours to support tliis hypothesis in opposition to it; just as if 
that, for which each contends, might not be tnce, or as if there 
were any reason why you should choose to embrace one 
opinion less than the other. 

Further, when you see so many things produced in a cer- 
tain order, it is difficult to demonstrate by reason, and to evince 
by argument, why a new moon may not be generated every 
day, with a certain succession of phases and figures, and each 
moon^ as it diumally arises, diurnally decay, and another be 
reproduced in its place and station. 

For the Spring and Venus begin their course, and the wing- 
ed zephyr, the harbinger of spring, walks before, near whose 
footsteps maternal Flora, preparing the way, covers the whole 
path with richest flowers and perfumes ; next follows scorch- 
ing Summer, and dusty Ceres closely attendant on her, and 
the Etesian breezes of the northern winds ; ^ then succeeds 
Autumn, together with whom advances Bacchus ; then follow 
other weather and other winds, the loud-resounding south-east 
and the south fraught with thunder ; at length cold brings on 
snows, and spreads abroad benumbing chillness, and Winter 
comes after, and frost chattering with £us teeth. Since, there- 
fore, so many things may occur at a certain time, it is the less 
surprising if the moon is at a certain time produced, and at a 
certain time decays. 

As for the eclipses of the sun, and occultations of the moon,^ 
you must suppose that they may arise from various causes. 
For, {as joxi perhaps ask,) why should the moon only be thought 
able to shut out the world from light, and to oppose her high 
head to it on the side of the earth,^ (obtending her dark orb to 

"* Etesian breezes of the northern winds.] Ver. 741. Etesiaflabra 
AqtUhnum, Etesian wiruh mean yearly wincu; but the term was oflen 
applied by the Greeks to the north winds, which were said to blow 
annuallv at the rising of the dog-star. See the commentators on 
Demosthenes, Phil. i. 11. 

* Occultations of the moon.] Ver. 750. Lunmgue latebras, Latehrce 
signifies obscurations or eclipses, as Creech rightly interprets. '^ He 
now begins to speaji of the eclipses of the sun and moon : and first 
of those of the sun." Lambinue, 

' And to oppose her high head to it on the side of the earth.] 
Ver. 753. Et d terris aUum caput dbetruere ei. " Objicere corpus 
suum supra terras elatum," says Creech ; but d terria surely means 
on the side of the earth. With ei Lambinus and Creech understand 
aoli; I prewr lumini. 

B. V. 754—777. LUCRETIUS. 221 

the sun^s glowing rays,) and not some other body, ^ which may 
always revolve devoid of light, be considered able to produce 
such an effect at the same time ? 

And why, also, may not the sun, at a certain time, send 
forth his radiance languidly, and again renew his splendour, 
when, in his passage through the air, he has passed by certain 
places which, we may suppose, are hurtful to his beams, and 
which cause his fires to be Suppressed and extinguished ? 

And why should the earth have power,^ in its turn, to de- 
prive the moon of light, and, passing itself above, to keep the 
sun shut oxki from her, (while she passes monthly through the 
dense coniform shadow,) and why should not some other body 
be able, at that time, to pass beneath the moon, or to glide 
over the orb of the sun, which body may intercept from her 
his effulgent rays and spreading light ? 

And still, if the moon shines herself by her own brightness, 
why may she not grow dim in a certain part of the world, 
while she passes through regions noxious to her light f 

For what remains, since I have shown how every thing may 
occur in the blue sky of our vast world, in order that we 
might understand what power and causes might produce the 
varied course of the sun and the wanderings of the moon, and 
by what means they are accustomed to have their light ob- 
structed and eclipsed,^ and to spread sudden darkness over the 
earth, (when they shut their eyes, as it were, for a time, and 
then, having opened them again, cover every fair region with 

* Some other body devoid of light.] Ver. 755. Alittd eorput — 

caaaum himine. Compare what he says in reference to the phases of 
the moon, ver. 716, seq, Comp. also ver. 764 — 766. 

* And why should the earth have power, 4ic.] Ver. 761. 

£t quur terra queat lunam spoliare vicissim 
Lumine, et oppressum solem super ipsa tenere. 
Menstrua dum rigidas coni perlabitur undas. 

*' Ipsa is to be referred to the earth, as the sense of the following 
verses proves." Faber, By coni umbras , savs Lambinus. is meant 
" the extreme part of the earth's shadow ; though some oy the cone 
understand the earth itself; which Aristotle {Mereuip, lib. ii.) affirms 
to be shaped like a drum, and says that lines drawn from its centre 
form two cones." Creech interprets, " rigidam terrae umbram, quae 
est conicae figurae ; " to which interpretation I have adapted my ver- 

' To have their light obstructed and eclipsed.] Ver. 774. Offecto 
lumine obire. 

222 LUCRETIUS. B, V. 778—804. 

shining light,) I now return to the early age of the world, and 
the tender fields of earth, to consider what kiTid of productions 
they first ventured,* with their new power of generation, to 
raise into the regions of light, and to commit to uncertain 

In the beginning, then, the earth spread over the hills the 
growth of herbs, and the beauty of verdure, and the flowery 
fields, throughout all regions, shone with a green hue ; and 
then was given, to the various kinds of trees, full power of 
shooting upwards through the air.^ For as feathers, and hairs, 
and bristles, are first produced over the limbs of quadrupeds 
and the bodies of the winged tribes, so the new earth then 
first put forth herbs and trees ; and afterwards generated the 
numerous races of animals,^ which arose in various forms and 
by various modes. For animals, that were to live on the earth, 
could assuredly neither have fallen from the sky,* nor have 
come forth from the salt depths of the sea. It remains, there- 
fore, to believe that the earth must justly have obtained the 
name of mother, since from the earth all living creatures were 
born. And even now many animals spring forth from the 
earth, which are generated by means of moisture and the 
quickening heat of the sun. It is accordingly less wonderful, 
if, at that time, creatures more numerous and of larger size 
arose, and came to maturity while the earth and the air were 
yet fresh and vigorous. 

First of all, the race of winged animals, and variegated 
birds, left their eggs, being excluded in the season of spring ; 
as grasshoppers, in these days, spontaneously leave their thin 
coats ^ in the summer, proceeding to seek sustenance and life. 

Next, be assured, the earth produced, for the first time, the 
tribes of men and beasts ; for much heat and moisture abound- 

* Ventured.] Ver. 780. Creduint * ** Creduint for credideiinty i. e. 
conjisa, ausafuertnt arva.*' Forhiger. Sed alii aliter, 

* Full power of shooting upwards through the air.] Ver. 785. 
Crescundi magnum immissis certamen habenis. Virg. Georg. ii. S6u. 

Dum se laetus ad auras 
Palmes agit, laxia per purum immissus habenis. 

* Numerous races of animals.] Ver. 789. Mortalia corda multa. 
Al. scecla, 

* Fallen from the sky, ^-c] Ver. 791. See ii. 1154—1157. 

* Thin coats.] Ver. 801. Folliculos teretes, Comp. iv. oQ. " Ro- 
tundas gracilesque tunicas." Creech, 

B. V. 805-337. LUCRETIUS. 223 

ed through the plains, and hence, where any suitable region 
offered itself, a kind of wombs sprung up,^ adhering to the 
earth by fibres. These, when the age of the infants within 
them, at the season of maturity, had opened, (escaping from 
their moist-enclosure, and seeking for air,) nature, in those 
places, prepared the pores of the earth, and forced it to pour 
from its open veins a liquid like milk ; just as every woman 
at present, when she has brought forth, is stored with sweet 
milk, because all the strength of the food is directed to the 
breasts. T^us the earth afforded nourishment to the infants ; 
the warmth rendered a garment unnecessary ; and the grass 
supplied a couch abounding with luxuriant and tender down. 

But the early age of the world gave forth neither severe 
cold nor extraordinary heat, nor winds of impetuous violence. 
For all these alike increase and acquire strength by time. 

For which cause, / say again and again, the earth has 
justly acquired, and justly retains, the name of mother, since 
she herself brought forth the race of men, and produced, at 
this certain time, almost every kind of animal which exults 
over the vast mountains, and the birds of the air, at the same 
period, with all their varied forms. But because she must 
necessarily have some termination to bearing, she ceased, like 
a woman, exhausted by length of time. For lapse of time 
changes the nature of the whole world, and one condition after 
another must succeed to all things, nor does any being con* 
tinue always like itself. All is unsettled ; nature alters and 
impels every thing to change. For one thing decays, and, 
grown weak through age, languishes ; another, again, grows 
up, and bursts forth from contempt.^ Thus age changes the 
nature of the whole world, and one condition after another 
falls upon the earth ; so that what she could once bear she 
can bear no longer ; while she can bear what she did not bear 
of old. 

The earth, also, in that age, made efforts to produce va- 
rious monsters, that sprung up with wonderful faces and 
limbs ; the hermaphrodite, between both sexes, and not either, 

* Wombs sprung up, 4rc.] Ver. 806. Crescebant uteri terree radicibtts 
apti. This is mentioned as an opinion of some philosophers by 
Diod. Sic. i. 7, and as an opinion of Epicurus by Censorinus, p. 11, 9. 

^ Bursts forth from contempt.] Ver. 831. E contenitibus exit. He 
repeats the same expression in ver. 1278. 

224 LUCRETIUS. ». v. 838—868. 

but removed from both ; others wanting feet, and others des- 
titute of hands ; some also were found dumb for want of a 
mouth, and some blind without even a face ; and others again 
were shackled by the cohesion of their limbs over their whole 
bodies, so that they could neither do any thing, nor go in any 
direction ; could neither avoid harm, nor take what was ne- 
cessary to preserve life. 

Other prodigies and portents of this kind she generated ; 
but to no purpose ; for nature abhorred and prevented their 
increase ; nor could they reach the desired maturity of age, 
or find nutriment, or be united in the pleasures of love. For 
we see that many circumstances must concur with other cir- 
cumstances, in order that living creatures may be able to pro- 
duce their kinds by propagation. First it is necessary that 
^ there be food ; then that there be genial semen throughout 
the organs, which may flow when the limbs are relaxed in 
union; and likewise, for the female to be united with the 
male, they must both have correspondent members, by which 
each may combine in mutual delight with the other. 

Many kinds of animal life, too, must then have perished, not 
having been able to continue their species by propagation. For 
whatever creatures you see breathing the vital air, assuredly 
either craft, or courage, or at least activity, has preserved and 
defended their race from the commencement of its existence. 
And there are many which, from their usefulness to mankind, 
remain, a^ it were, intrusted to us, and committed to our 

In the first place, courage has protected the fierce brood of 
lions, and the savage races of other wild animals ; and craft 
has secured the fox, as swiftness has saved the stag. But the 
light-slumbering breed of dogs, with their faithful affections, 
and all the various species of horses,^ and the woolly flocks, 
too, and horned cattle, all these, my dear Memmi'us, are com- 
mitted to the protection of man. For they have anxiously 
avoided wild beasts, and have sought peace ; and plenty of 
subsistence has been provided for them without labour of 
theirs, which subsistence we secure to them as a reward in 

* And all the various species of horses.] Ver. 863. Et genus 
omne quod est veterino semine partum. I have translated this by horses^ 
but it means all kinds of beasts that are serviceable to man by car- 
rying or drawing. Quasi veheterinus, from veho* Comp. ver. 888. 

B. V. 869—897. LUCRETIUS. 225 

return for their service. But of those to whom nature has 
given no such qualities, that they should either be able to 
live of themselves, or to afford us any service, why should we 
suffer the races to be maintained and protected by our sup- 
port ? Indeed all these, rendered helpless by their own fatal 
bonds, were exposed as a prey and a prize to other animals^ 
until nature brought their whole species to destruction. 

But Centaurs, and such creatures, there neither were, nor 
ever can be ; for there can never exist an animal formed of a 
double nature and of two bodies ; an animal made up of such 
heterogeneous members that the power in the opposite por- 
tions of the frame cannot possibly be equal This you may 
learn, with however dull an understanding,^ from the follow- 
ing observations. 

First, the horse, when three years of his age have passed, 
is flourishing in full vigour ; the boy, at this time of life, is 
by no means so^ but will even often seek in his sleep the milky 
teats of his mother^s breast. A^i'^&i^s, when, in old age, his 
lusty vigour and stout limbs are failing the horse, (growing tor- 
pid as iSe is departing,) behold, at that very period, the young 
man's age being in its flower, youth prevails in him,^ and 
clothes his cheeks with soft down ; so that you cannot pos- 
sibly imagine that Centaurs can be composed or consist of 
a man and the servile seed of a horse ;^ or that there can 
he Scylke, of half-marine bodies, cinctured with fierce dogs ; 
or other monsters of this sort, whose parts we observe to be 
incompatible with each other ; parts which neither grow up 
together in their bodies, nor acquire vigour together, nor lose 
their strength^ together in old age; and which are neither 
excited by the same objects of affection, nor agree with the 
same tempers, ixov find that the same hiftds of food are nu- 
tritious to their bodies*^ For you may observe that bearded 

* With however dull an understanding.] Ver. 880. Quamvis he- 
beti corde. 

* Youth prevails in him.] Ver. 887. Jwentaa Officii, " Intervenit." 
Wakefield. Al. Occipit, 

^ Servile seed of a horse.] Ver. 888. Veterino semine equorum, 
Comp. ver. 863. 

* Lose their strength.] Ver. 894. Perficiunt **That is, bring 
(their strength^ to an end.*' Wakefield. 

* Nutritious to their bodies.] Ver. 896. Joconda per artus. Jucundus, 
from JuvOf to help or sustain. 


226 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 898—931. 

goats often grow fat on hemlock, which to men is rank 

Since, too, the fl^e of fire is accustomed to scorch and 
bum up the tawny bodies of lions, as well as every kind of 
creature on earth that consists of flesh and blood, how was it 
possible that a Chimsera, one animal compounded of three 
bodies, the fore part a lion, the hinder a dragon, the middle a 
goat,^ could blow abroad at its mouth' a fierce fiame out of its 

For which reason, he who supposes that such animals might 
have been produced, even When the earth was new and the 
air fresh, (leaning for argument only on this empty term of 
newness,) may babble, with equal reason, many other hypo- 
theses of a like nature. He may say that rivers of gold then 
flowed every where over the earth, and that the groves were 
accustomed to blossom with jewels ; or that men were formed 
with such power and bulk of limbs, that they could ex- 
tend their steps over the deep seas, and turn the whole 
heaven around them with' their hands. For though, at the 
time when the earth first produced animal life, there were in- 
numerable seeds of things in the ground, this is yet no proof 
that creatures could have been generated of mixed natures, 
and that heterogeneous members of animals could have been 
blended together. Since the various kinds of herbs, and fruits, 
and rich groves, which even now spring- up-exuberantly from 
the earth, can nevertheless not be produced with a union of 
different kinds. But they can readily be produced^ if each 
proceeds in its own order, and all preserve their distinctions 
according to the fixed law of nature. 

And that early race of men upon the earth was much more 
hardy; as it was natural that they should be, for the hard 
earth herself bore them. They were internally sustained with 
bones both larger and more solid, and furnished with strong 
nerves throughout their bodies; nor were they a ra^ie that 
could easily be injured by heat or cold, or by change of food, 
or by any corporeal malady. 

And during many lustres of the sun, revolving through the 
heaven, they prolonged their lives after the roving manner 
of wild beasts. No one was either a driver of the crooked 

^ The middle a goat.] V er. 903. MedM ipsa, Ckimcera (xifiatpa ) 
signifies a goat. 

B. V. 932—956. LUCRETIUS. 227 

plough, or knew how to turn up the fields with the spade, or 
to plant young seedlings in the earth, or to cut, with pruning- 
hooks, the old boughs from the lofty trees. That supply which 
the sun and rain had afforded, or which the earth had yielded 
of its own accord, sufficiently gratified their desires. They 
refreshed themselves, for the most part, among the acorn-laden 
oaks. The earth, too, then furnished abundance of whortle- 
berries,! even larger than at present, which you now see. ripen 
in winter, and become of a purple colour. And many rude 
kinds of nourishment besides, ample for hapless mortals, the 
florid freshness of the world in those days produced. 

The rivers and fountains then invited them to quench their 
thirst, as the echoing fall of waters from the high hills now 
calls, far and wide, the thirsty tribes of wild beasts. After- 
wards they occupied the sylvan temples of the nymphs, well 
known to the wanderers ; from which the goddesses sent forth 
flowing rills of water,^ to lave with a copious flood the humid 
rocks, trickling over the green moss, and to swell and burst 
forth, with a portion of their streams, over the level plain. 

Nor as yet did they understand how to improve their con- 
dition by the aid of fire, or to use skins, and to clothe their 
bodies with the spoils of wild beasts. But they dwelt in 
groves, and hollow mountains, and woods ; and, when com- 
pelled to flee from the violence of the wind and rain, sheltered 
their rude limbs amid the thickets. 

Nor could they have regard to any common interest, or 

» Whortle-berries.] Ver. 939. Arbuta, Good translates this, " The 
wild wood-whoTtle,'* observing that commentators have unuormly 
understood that " tlie arborescent and garden strawberry-tree " is 
here signified, which bears^ " a crimson fruit about the size of an 
Orleans plum ;" but that this fruit is ** extremely sour and unpleas- 
ant to the taste," and is never employed "for purposes of food." 
He therefore thinks that Lucretius means that species of arbutus 
called by Caspar Bauhine " Vitis IcUea, the common whortle or cran- 
berry," which " has an agreeable sub-acid flavoiur when tasted 
alone," but " is more generally eaten with cream or milk sweetened 
with sugar, or else in the form of preserves ; in which latter state 
it is very largely made use of in Russia, and, indeed, among all the 
northern nations." 

* Flowing rills of water.]) Ver. 948. Eumore fluenta Lubrica. 
'' Id est, fluenta humida et liquida." Lamfdntu, The words Eumida 
saxtty " humid rocks," are elegantly repeated in the original, but 
could not be repeated to any purpose in a prose transla^^n. 


228 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 957-987. 

understand how to observe any customs or laws among them- 
selves. Whatever prize fortune had thrown in the way of 
any one, on that he seized ; each knowing onlt/ to profit by 
his own instinct, and to live for himself. 

And Venus united the persons of lovers in the woods ; for 
either mutual desire reconciled each female to the intercourse, 
or the impetuous force and vehement lust of the man over- 
came, her; or acorns and whortle-berries, or choice crabs,* 
were the purchase of her favours. 

And, relying on the extraordinary vigour of their hands 
and feet, they pursued the sylvan tribes of wild beasts with 
missile stones and ponderous clubs ; and many they overcame, 
whUe a few escaped them in their dens ; and, when surprised 
by night, they threw their savage limbs, like bristly boars, 
unprotected on the earth, covering themselves over with leaves 
and branches. 

Nor did they, trembling and wandering in the shades of 
night, seek to recall the day^ and the sun with loud cries 
throughout the fields, but, silent and buried in sleep, they 
waited till Phoebus, with his roseate beams, should again 
spread light over the heavens. For since they had always 
been accustomed, from their infancy, to see darkness and 
light produced at alternate seasons, it was impossible that 
they should ever wonder at the change, or feel apprehension 
lest, the beams of the sun being withdrawn for ever, eternal 
night should keep possession of the earth. But what rather 
gave them trouble, was, that the tribes of wild beasts often 
disturbed the rest of hapless sleepers; while, driven from their 
cell at the approach of a foaming boar or stout lion, they fied 
from their rocky shelter, and yielded up with trembling, at the 
dead of night, their couches of leaves to the savage intruders. 

Nor ifet did the race of men, in those days, leave with la- 
mentations the sweet light of life in much greater numbers 

* Choice crabs.J Ver. 963. Ptra lecta. " Pears,'* says Good, 
** are a cultivated fruit, introduced, indeed, by grafting or inocula- 
tion alone, from the wild crab^ which is the common origin of the 
pear, the apple, and the qumce." He therefore translates pira 

crabs," and I have followed him. 

^ Nor did they — seek to recall the day, Sfc.'] Ver. 971. Nee plan- 
gore diem, &c. Some philosophers had attributed such surprise and 
despair to the earliest race of men ; to which Manilius alludes, 
book i. 66, seq. 

B. V. 988—1007. LUCRETIUS. 229 

than at present. For though more frequentlp at that period, 
one individual of their number, being caught by wild beasts, 
and consumed by their teeth, afforded them living food, and 
filled, meanwhile, the groves, and mountains, and forests, with 
his shrieks, as he felt his bowels buried in a living tomb ; ^ 
while those whom flight had saved, with their bodies torn, 
and pressing their trembling hands over their grievous wounds, 
called on death with horrid cries, until, destitute of relief, and 
ignorant what their hurts required, cruel tortures^ deprived 
them of life. Yet, in those times, one day did not consign to 
destruction many thousands of men under military banners ; 
nor did the boisterous floods of the sea dash ships and men 
upon rocks. But the ocean, though often rising and swelling, 
raged in vain and to no purpose,^ and laid aside its empty 
threats without eflect; nor could the deceitful allurement 
of its calm water entice, with its smiling waves, any one 
into danger ; for the daring art of navigation was then un- 
known. Want of food then consigned languishing bodies 
to death ; now, on the contrary, abundance of luxuries causes 
destruction. The men of those times often poured out poison 

* As he felt his bowels buried in a living tomb.] Ver. 991. Viva 
videns vivo sepeliri viscera busto, Gorgias the rhjetorician is censured 
by Longinus (Sect. 3)^ for calling vultures ifi^x^ ra^ot, but Lu-, 
cretius, says Faber, being a ^oet, may be^ allowed to use such an 
expression. There is a similar conceit in Milton, Sams. Ag. ver. 

Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave. 

And another in Pope, Essay on Man, iii. 162, 


Of half that live the butcher and the tomb. 

* Cruel tortures.] Ver. 995. Vermina sava. ** Venmna is a dis- 
ease of the body, with a slight motion in it, as if the patient were 
afflicted with worms. It is called by the Greeks trrpo^bg." Festus, 
" Vermina sunt tormina, unde verminari, pati tormina." Vossius 
De Anal. i. p. ISO. Creech interprets vermma simply vermes, and 
Good gives '* vile worms," which may, indeed, be the right sense. 

' But the ocean, though often rising and aueUing, raged in vain 
and to no purpose.] Ver. 1002. This is the only passage in which I 
have departed from the text of Forbiger, in whose edition i^ stands 
thus : Nee temere incassttm fruMtra mare eape coorium eavibat. He 
attempts to make sense of it by referring the conjunction nee ** not 
onlv to the verb eavibat, but to all the sentence, as if Lucretius had 
said, nee seepe temere mare oooriebatur et a4Bvib€U.** But whom will this 
satisfy? Wakefield supplies m fiai>e< from the preceding verse, as 
if Lucretius would have said that the ocean did not often rage 

230 LUCRETIUS. B. v: 1008— 1040. 

for themselves unawares ; now persons of their own accord 
give it craftily to others. 

Afterwards, when they procured huts, and skins, and fire, 
and the woman, united to the man, came to dwell in the 
same place tmth him; and when the pure and pleasing con- 
nexions of undivided love were known, and they saw a pro- 
geny sprung from themselves; then iSrst the human race 
beg^ to be softened and civilized. For fire now rendered 
their shivering bodies less able to endure the cold under the 
canopy of heaven ; and love diminished their strength ; and 
children with their blandishments easily subdued the ferocious 
tempers of their parents. Then, also, neighbours, feeling a 
mutual friendship, began to form agreements not to hurt or 
injure one another; and they commended, with sounds and 
gestures, their children, and the female sex, to each other's 
protection ; while they signified, with imperfect speech, that 
it is right for every one to have compassion on the weak. 
Such concord, however, could not be established universally ; 
but the better and greater part kept their faith inviolate, or 
the human race would then have been wholly destroyed, and 
the species could not have continued its generations to the 
present period. 

But nature prompted men to utter the various sounds of the 
tongue, and convenience drew from them the names of things, 
almost in the same manner as inability to use the tongue seems 
to excite children to gesture, when it causes them to point 
with the finger at objects which are present before them. For 
every creature is sensible that it can use its own faculty. 
Uven before horns are produced on the forehead of a calf, it 
butts and pushes fiercely with it when enraged ; and the young 
of panthers, and whelps of lions, contend with their talons, 
and feet, and teeth, when their teeth and talons are yet scarcely 
grown. We see, moreover, that the whole race of birds trust 
to their wings, and seek a fluttering support from their pinions. 
To suppose, therefore, that any one man ^ then assigned names 

against ships when there were no ships. Try what mode of explan- 
ation you please, **nec," as Lachmann says, "perverts the sense." 
Lambmus reads 8ed, and him I have followed. Lachmann himself 
gives hie. The meaning of the passage evidently is, that there were 
then no ships for the ocean to wreck. 

* To suppose, therefore, that any one tnatif 4fc.] Ver. 1040. Proinde 

B. V. 1041—1070. LUCRETIUS. 231 

to things, and that men thence learned their first words, is to 
think absurdly ; for why should this one man be able to dis- 
tinguish all things with names, and to utter the varied accents 
of the voice, and others not be deemed able to do this at the 
same time ? Besides, if others had not also used words among 
themselves, whence was the knowledge dfthem ingrafted in him ? 
Whence was power first given to him, that he should under- 
stand, and discern in his mind, what expediency would wish 
to effect ? One, likewise, would not be able to compel many, 
and oblige them, by force, to submit to learn his names of 
things ; nor could he by any means teach, or persuade men 
unfitted to listen, what was necessary to be done ; for neither 
would they at all bear with patience, or long suffer him to din 
into their ears, to no purpose, the strange and unintelligible 
sounds of his voice. 

Lastly, what is there so wonderful in this matter, if the 
human race, whose voice and tongue were in full vigour, dis- 
tinguished various objects by sounds, according to their various 
feetings ; when dumb cattle, and even the tribes of wild beasts, 
are wont to utter different and distinct cries when terror or 
pain affects their hearts^ and when joy prevails in them ? For 
this you may observe by manifest instances. 

When the large flabby jaws of the Molossian dogs begin to 
growl, as they are irritated, exposing their hard teeth, their 
violent fury ^ threatens with a far different sound from that 
which they utter when they merely bark, and fill all the neigh- 
bourhood with yelping. And when they begin to lick 
their whelps tenderly with their tongue, or when they fondle 
them with their paws, and, snapping at them, affect gently to 
swallow them up with teeth suspended over them^ they soothe 
them with a sort of whining, using their voice far otherwise 
than when they howl, deserted in hnely buildings, or when, 

putare aliquem turn nomina diatribuiatet &c. ** This is directed against 
Pythagoras, to whom it seemed to have been the office of the High- 
est wisdom to give names to all things ; and against Plato, who, in 
his Cratylus, says that names were given to thmgs, not hy^ chance, 
hut by regular plan and contrivance ; and that he who first invented 
the names was called dvofiarovpybg, and 6vofmro9krfiQ," Lambtntu. 

* Violent fury.] Ver. 1064. Babies districta. Fury draum like a 
stoord, as Wakefield interprets it; equivalent to ronton denies dis- 

232 LUCRETIUS. B.v. 1071—1091. 

with crouchiDg body, tbej slink whimpering from beneath a 

Again, does not the voice of the horse seem also to differ, 
when, as a vigorous steed in the flower of his age, arui pierced 
with the goads of winged love, he rages-wildly among the 
mares ; and when he utters a snorting for war from his ex- 
panded nostrils, and thus^ with his limbs trembling, neighs in 
quite other tones ? ^ 

Further, the winged tribes, and various birds, hawks, and 
eagles,^ and gulls, which, amid the waves of the sea, seek their 
food and living in the salt noater, utter far other cries at other 
times, than when they contend for sustenance and fight about 
prey. Occasionally, also, the long-lived generations of crows, 
and the flocks of ravens, change their hoarse notes with the 
weather, when they are said sometimes to call for rain and 
showers, and sometimes to cry for gales of wind. 

If various feelings, therefore, impel the inferior animals, 
though they are destitute of speech, to utter various sounds, 
how much more consonant is it to reason, that men, even in 
those early days, should have been able to distinguish different 
objects by different names ! 

And lest, perchance, in reference to these subjects, you 
should meditate with yourself as to the following pointy and be 
anxious to know the origin offire^ ItoUl inform you that light- 
ning first brought flame down upon the earth for mortals, and 

' Thus — neighs in quite other tones.] Ver. 1075, 1076. 

£t fremitum patulis sub naribus edit ad arma, 
£t quom sic ali^, concussis artibus, hinnit ? 

This is Forbiger's reading. Wakefield injudiciously transposed the 
two verses. Lambinus (whom Creech follows) reads Et quom m, 
for «tti8, justly observing that the mc is *' idle and unmeaning." He 
also asks the question, "^ Qusenam arma? Martiane, an Venerea? *' 
but does not decide for either ; Lachmann understands the latter. 
Creech parajphrases the lines thus : *' vel cum in pugnam initurus 
^ patulis nanbus hinnitum edit^ et ctlm alias propter causas artibus 
concussis hinnit ; " understandmg, apparently, tne first verse de ar- 
mis MartiiSy and the second de armis VenereU. I have referred them 
both to the arms of Mars, believing that Virgil had this passage in 
his mind when he unrote tne vigorous lines, 

Stare loco nescit, micat auribus, et tremit artus, 4r^. 
* Eagles.] Ver. 1078. Ossifragoi, " A kind of eagle ; see Pliny 
X. 2." Lambinus, 

B. V. 1092--1121. LUCRETIUS. 233 

that from thence all the $re in the world^ is spread abroad. 
For we even now see many substances, struck with fire from 
heaven, ignite, when the ethereal region has sent down its 
flames. Though it is not to be forgotten, indeed, that when a 
branching tree,^ struck by the winds, is shaken and agitated, 
moving to and fro, and pressing against the boughs of another 
tree, fie, excited by the violent friction, is elicited 5 so that 
sometimes^ while the branches and stems are rubbed together, 
a fervid glow of flame bursts forth ; of which causes, accord" 
ingly, either might have supplied fire to mankind. 

The sun next instructed them to dress their food, and soften 
it with the heat of flame ; for they saw many things, through- 
out the fields, mollified by the force of his beams and subdued 
by his warmth. Hence those who excelled in sense, and had 
power of understanding, . taught the others, every day more 
and more, to change their rude diet,^ and former mode of 
life, for new practices and improvements by means qf^re. 

At length the leaders began to build cities, and to found 
fortresses, as a protection and refuge for themselves. They 
also divided the cattle and the fields, and allotted them accord- 
ing to the beauty, and strength, and understanding of each tn- 
dividual; for beauty was dien much esteemed, and strength 
had great influence. Afterwards wealth was introduced, and 
gold brought to light, which easily robbed the strong and 
beautiful of their honour ; for men, however strong, or en- 
dowed with however beautiful a person, generally follow the 
party of the richer. 

But to man, whoever governs his life according to true rea- 
son, it is great wealth to live on a little with a contented 
mind; for of a little there is no want. Yet men wished 
themselves to be honoured and powerful, that their fortune 
might rest on a steady foundation, and that themselves, being 

^ All the fire in the world.'] Ver. 1092. Onmis Jhanmarum ardor. 

' When a branching tree, Sgc] Ver. 1095. See i. 896. 

' Every day more and more to change their rude diet.! Ver. 
1 104. Inque dies nMoit itwietum — eomntutare. Invietua is a word intro- 
duced from three MSS. by Forbiger, in the sense of /3toc dfiios, Lam- 
binus and Wakefield read m vietum ; and Wakefield explains com- 
mutare in victum to be the same as commtUare victum, or tnutationee 
importare in victum. But Creech adopted hi victum, ftrom a conjec- 
ture of Naugerius, which Lachmann has retained. In Forbiger there 
is a misprint of Jnde for Inque, 

234 LUCEETIUS. B. V. 1122—1150. 

Strong, might pass an undisturbed life. But this they desired 
in vain ; for, as they strove to reach the highest honours, 
they rendered the course of their steps full of trouble. And 
still, though they attain their object, envy, like a thunderbolt, 
hurls them at times from their pre-eminence, and sinks them 
with scorn cw into the gloom of Tartarus ; so that it is far 
better to obey in quiet, than to seek to hold states under our 
swBjy and to manage kingdoms. . Let men, therefore, if they 
will, sweat out their life's blood,* wearying themselves to no 
purpose, and struggling along the narrow road of ambition ; 
(for the highest objects, and whatever are more exposed on 
eminences,* are generally sooner scorched with envy as well 
as with lightning ;) since they gather knowledge only from 
the mouths of others, and pursue things rather from what they 
hear than from their own judgments. Nor does this folly 
prevail more now, or will it prevail more hereafter, than it 
has already prevailed in past time. 

Kings, therefore,^ being deposed and slain, the ancient ma- 
jesty of their thrones, and their proud sceptres, lay overthrown 
in the dust ; and the illustrious ornament of the royal head, 
stained with blood beneath the feet of the rabble, mourned 
the loss of its supreme honour ; for that which has been too 
much feared before, is eagerly trodden down. 

Power, accordingly, returned to the lowest dregs and rabble 
of mankind, whilst each sought dominion and eminence for 
himself. But at length the wiser part taught them to establish 
a government, and made laws^br them, that they might consent 
to observe order ; for mankind, weary of passing their lives in a 
state of violence, were worn out with contentions ; on which 
account they fell more submissively under the power of laws 
and strict ordinances. For because every one, in his resent- 
ment, prepared to take revenge for himself more severely than 
is now allowed by equitable laws, men, for this reason, be- 
came disgusted with living in strife. Since, from this source, 

* Sweat out their life's blood.] Ver. 1128. Sanguine sudenU I am 
indebted to Good for the translation of these words. 

* Whatever are more exposed on eminences.] Ver. 1131. Qum 
tunt alHa magia edUa quomqtte, ** Exposed on high places, or promi- 
nent." Wakefield, 

' Kings, therefore, S^e.'] Ver. 1135. Ergo regihm occisis. The crjro, 
therefore, refers to what is said, in the preceding paragraph, about 
the lofty being humbled ; unless, indeed, some lines have oeen lost. 

B. V. 1161-1176. LUCRETIUS. 235 

the fear of punishment poisons the enjoyments of life ; for 
violence and injury involve every one, and generally recoil 
upon the head of him from whom they arose ; nor is it possible 
for any one to live a quiet and peaceable life, who violates by 
his actions the common bonds of peace. For though his guilt 
escape, for a time, the knowledge of both gods and men, yet 
he cannot feel sure that it will always be hidden ; since many, 
speaking frequently in dreams, or being delirious in sickness, 
are said to have revealed ikevr secrets^ and to have published 
to the world long-concealed crimes. 

In the next place, what cause spread abroad, throughout 
the wide nations of the earthy the notion of the existence and 
power of the gods, and filled cities with altars, and led 
solemn sacred rites to be instituted ; (which sacred rites now 
flourish and are performed on all important occasions and in 
all distinguished places ;) whence also terror pervades mortals; 
a terror which raises new temples of the deities throughout 
the whole globe of the earth, and impels men to celebrate their 
worship on feast days ; it is not so difficult, as it mat/ seem^ 
to explain.^ 

For, in those early times of which we speak, the tribes of 
mortals beheld in their minds, even when awake, glorious 
images as of gods,^ and saw them, in their sleep, sttU more dis- 
tinctly, and of a wondrous magnitude of figure. To these, 
therefore, they attributed vitality, because they seemed to move 
their limbs, and to utter majestic words, suitable to their dis- 
tinguished appearance and mighty strength. And they as- 
signed to them an immortal existence, because their appear- 
ances came-in-constant-succession, and their form remained 
the same ; although they might certainly have deemed them 
immortal on another account,^ as they would consider that 

* To explain.] Ver. 1167. Rationem reddere verbis, 
^ Glorious images as of gods.] Ver. 1168. Divtmt egregiaa fades. 
This is a most unsatisfactory way of accounting for the first con- 
ception of supernatural beings. "^ Consistently with his common 
doctrine," says Good, "Lucretius imputes the more frequent ap- 
pearance of those heavenly semblances, or rather their being more 
frequently perceived by mankind, in those early ages of the world, 
to the greater degree of solitude and tranquillity in which life was 
then passed." This is, however, not to be found in the passage 
before us. Other commentators are silent. 

^ Although thej/ might certainly have deemed them immortal on another 
account.^ Ver. 1176. Et tamen omnino. The words supplied are 

236 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 1177—1207. 

beings, endowed with snch apparent strength, could not easily 
be subdued by any destructive force. And they thought them 
pre-eminent in happiness, because the fear of death could thus 
trouble none of them, and because, at the same time, they saw 
them, in their dreams, do many and wonderful actions^ and ex- 
perience, flw it seemedy no difficulty in the performance of them. 

Besides, they observed the revolutions of the heavens, and 
the various seasons of the year, go round in a cert^n order, 
and yet could not understand by what causes these effects 
were produced. They had, then, this resource for themselves, 
to ascribe all things to gods, and to make all things be guided 
by their will. 

And the seats and abodes ^ of these gods they placed in the 
sky, because through the sky the night and the moon are seen 
to revolve; the moon, I say, the day, and the night, and the 
august constellations^ of night, and the nocturnal luminaries 
of the heavens, and the flying meteors, <is well as the clouds, 
the sun, rain, snow, winds, lightnings, hail, and the vehement 
noises and loud threatening murmurs of the thunder, 

O unhappy race of men ! as they attributed such acts, be- 
sides ascribing bitter wrath, to the gods ! What lamentations 
did they then prepare for themselves, and what sufferings for 
us ! what fears have they entailed upon our posterity ! 

Nor is it any piety for a man to be seen, unth his head 
veiled, turning towards a stone, and drawing near to every 
altar ; or to fall prostrate on the ground, and to stretch out 
his hands before the shrines of the gods ; or to sprinkle the 
altars with copious blood of four-footed beasts, and to add 
vows to vows ; but it is rather piety to be able to contemplate 
all things with a serene mind. For when we look up to the 
celestial regions of the vast world above, and contemplate the 
firmament studded with glittering stains, and reflect upon the 
revolutions of the sun and moon, the apprehension lest there 
should, perchance, be an almighty power of the gods above 
us, which guides the stars in their various motions, begins 
then to raise its head, as if awaking,, within our breast ; an 

from the suggestion of Wakefield. Other editions have Et manet 

omnino, which is not very intelligihle. 

» Abodes.] Ver. 1187. Templa. "Domos." Creech, 

* August constellations.] Ver. 1189. Si^na severa, " Veneranda, 

dia, sacra." Lambmtu, 

B, V. 1208-1240. LUCEBTIUS. 237 

apprehension which, perhaps, before lay dormant under the 
weight of other cares. Since {toverty of reason, and iffnor- 
ance of natural causes, disquiet the mind, while it doubts 
whether there was any birth, or commencement of the world, 
or whether there is any limit of time, qntil which the walls 
of the world,^ and the silent movements of the heavenly bodies, 
can endure this incessant labour; or whether the heavens, di- 
vinely endow^ed with an imperishable nature,, can, as they roll 
along time'a eternal course, defy the mighty power of endless 


Besides, whose heart does not shrink at the terrors of the 
gods ? Whose limbs do not shudder with dread, when the 
scorched earth trembles with the awful stroke of lightning, 
and when the roars of thunder pervade the vast heaven ? Dq 
not people and nations tremble ? And do not proud monarchs, 
penetrated with fear K the deities, recoil in every nerve, lest, 
for some foul depd, or arrogant word, the dread time of pay- 
ing penalty be come ? "^ 

When, likewise, the mighty force of a tempestuous wind, 
raffing over the sea, sweeps athwart the deep the commander 
of a fleet with all his powerful legions and elephants,^- does 
he not solicit peace of the gods with vows, and timidly im- 
plore them with prayers, for a lull of the winds and a pros- 
perous gale ? But, alas ! he implores them to no purpose ; 
for, frequently, seized by a violent hurricane, he is neverthe- 
less borne away to the shoals of death. Thus some unseen 
power, apparently, bears upon human things, and seems to 
trample down proud fasces and cruel axes, and make them 
merely a sport for itself. 

Further, when the whole earth totters under our feet, and 
cities, shaken to their base, fall or threaten to fall, what wonder 
is it, that the nations of the world despise and humble them- 
selves, and admit the vast influence of the gods over the world, 
and their stupendous power to govern all things ? 

Moreover, brass, and gold,' and iron were discovered, as 

^ Walls of the world.] Ver. 1212. Mcmia mundi. That is, the 
heavens. Men cannot but suspect that the heavens may at length 
be worn out by perpetual revolutions. 

' Elephants.] Ver. 1227. Which he is transporting, to make war 
in a foreign country. 

^ Moreover, brass, and gol^ 4r^.] Ver. 1240. Quod mperett as atque 
aurum, &c. He now proceeds to tell how metals were discovered.. 


LUCRETIUS. B. V. 1241—1272. 

well as heavy silver, and the substance of lead,* at a time when 
fire had consumed mighty forests upon the high mountains, 
either from lightning having been hurled upon them, or because 
meUy warring among themselves in the woods, had set fire to 
them for a terror to their enemies ; or else because, moved by the 
goodness of the soil, they wished to lay open fertile fields, and to 
render the. country fit for pasturage; or because they sought 
to kill the wild beasts, and to enrich themselves with their 
spoils. For to catch the game by means of pitfalls and fire, 
became a practice before m^n surrounded the forest with nets, 
or roused the anhnals with dogs. 

However this may be, or from whatever cause the rage of 
the fire, with frightful noise, had consumed the woods from 
their deepest roots, and had melted the earth with heat, there 
flowed from the boiling veins, uniting in the hollow places of 
the soil, a stream of silver and gold, as well as of brass and 
lead ; which, when they afterwards saw it congealed, and 
shining with a bright colour on the ground, they took up, 
being attracted by its glittering and smooth lustre ; and they 
observed that the masses were formed of the same shape as 
the figure of the receptacle of each had been. It then occur- 
red to them, that these metals, being melted with heat, might 
settle into any form or figure of things, and. might also be 
fashioned, by beating out, into the sharpest and finest points 
of instruments, so that they might make tools for themselves, 
and be able both to cut down the woods, and hew timber, 
and smooth and polish boards, as well as to pierce, excavate, 
and bore. 

These instruments they at first attempted to make of silver 
and gold, no less than of the strong substance of hard brass ; 
but in vain ; for the consistence of those metals yielded and 
gave way, and both were alike unable to bear severe usage. 
Accordingly brass was then more in esteem, and gold was 

Similar extractions of metals from the earth, casual or otherwise, 
are mentioned by Aristotle, De Mirab. p. 102, ed. Sylb. ; Athenaeus, 
vi. 4, sub Jin. ; Strabo, lib. iii. p. 147; Diodorus Sicuhis, Ant. lib. 
iv., haud longl ab init. jiE» I have rendered brass^ (not copper , as 
Good translates it,) for Servius, (ad iEn. xii. 87,) alluding to this 
very passage of Lucretius, makes it equivalent to orichalcumj wliich 
is generally understood to be brass. 

* Substance of lead.] Ver. 1241. Plumbi potestas. The same as 
plumbi vis, or plunUmm ipsum. 

B. V. 1273—1302. LUCRETIUS. 239 

neglected on account of its uselessness, as taking only a 
dull edge and blunt, point; now brass is despised, and gold 
lias succeeded to the highest honours. For thus revolving 
time changes the seasons of things ; that which was once in 
estimation, becomes of no repute at all ; while another thing 
succeeds, and bursts forth from contempt ; ^ something tvhich is 
daily more and more sought, and which, when found, flour- 
ishes among mankind with special praise and wonderful 

It is now easy for thee to understand of thyself, my Mem-^ 
mius, how the nature and tise of iron were discovered. 

The first weapons of mankind were the hands, nails, and 
teeth ; also stones, and branches of trees, the fragments of 
the woods ; then flame and Are were tised, as soon as they 
were known ; and lastly was discovered the strength of iron 
and brass. But the use of brass was known earlier than Ikat 
of iron ;^ inasmuch as its substance is more easy to work, and 
its abundance greater.^ With brass they turned up the soil 
of the earth ; and with brass they excited the tumults of war, 
and inflicted deep wounds, and took away the cattle and lands 
of their neighbours; for every thing unarmed and defenceless 
easily surrendered to those that were armed. Then gradu- 
ally came forth the sword of steel, and the form of the brazen 
pruning- hook was turned into contempt. With iron they 
began to cleave the ground, and the contests of doubtful war- 
fare were made equal. 

And it appears that man mounted armed upon the back of 
a horse, and guided it with reins, and exerted his right hand 
to fight, before he tried the hazards of war in a two-horsed 
chariot. It also doubtless occurred earlier to yoke two horses 
than four, or than to mount in full armour on chariots equipped 
with scythes. In process of time the Carthaginians taught 
fierce elephants,^ with towers on their backs, and with snake- 
like proboscis, to endure the wounds of war, and to throw vast 

* Bursts forth from contempt.] Ver. 1277. See ver. 831. ^ 

' Its abundance greater.] Ver. 1283. Copia nuyor. Viz. in those 

early times. 

XakKif ilpyd^ovTOt fikXaQ S' ovk Iffice ffidtipog. Hes. Op. et D. 150. 
' Elephants.] Ver. 1301. Bovea Lticaa. Elephants were so called 

by the Komans because they first saw them in Lucania, in the war 

with Pyrrhus. Plin. H. N. viii. 6, 6. — With snake-like proboscis.] 

Anffuimanos, See ii. 538. 

240 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 1303—1345. 

martial battalions into confusion. Thns sad discord produced 
one invention after another, to spread terror in battle among 
the tribes of men, and added dsolj increase to the horrors of 

They tried bulls, also, in the business of war, and endea- 
voured to impel fierce boars against the enemy. The Parthi- 
ans, too, sent strong lions before them, with armed keepers 
and daring guides, to goyem them and hold them in chaiiis. 
But such attempts were in vain ; for the savage beasts, heated 
with tumultuous slaughter, and shaking their terrible manes 
on every side, disordcared €Ul troops without distinction. Nor 
could the riders soothe the spirits of their horses, which were 
alarmed at the roaring of the lions, and turn them with the 
reins against the enemy. The lions, in their rage, threw 
themselves with leaps among the soldiers in every part ; they 
flew at the faces of those who came against them, and seized 
on others from behind unawares, and, clasping them round 
about, threw them to the earth sinking under wounds, 
clinging to them with their strong teeth and hooked talons. 
The bulls tossed their own people, and trampled them under 
foot ; they gored with their horns the sides of the horses, and 
their bellies underneath, and tore up the earth with alarming 
fury. But the boars killed their own friends with strong 
tusks, staining, in their rage, the broken darts with their 
blood, and spread promiscuous destruction among cavalry 
and infantry. For though the horses, leaping aside, shunned 
the fierce attacks of their teeth, or, rearing up, pawed the air 
with their feet, t/et they struggled to no purpose ; since you 
might have seen them sink down hamstrung, and cover the 
earth with a heavy fall. Whatever beasts they thought suffi- 
ciently tame at home, they saw, in the heat of action, mad- 
dened with wounds, cries, flight, terror, and tumult. Nor 
could they recall any portion of them to order; for all the 
different kinds of beasts scattered themselves abroad ; as ele- 
phants even now, when imperfectly inured to weapons, flee 
hither and thither, after having inflicted much cruel damage 
on their masters. 

Thus, and with these views, it is possible that they might 
act. But I am scarcely inclined to thinh that they could not 
originally foresee, and consider in their minds, how general 
and calamitous an evil such warfare would prove to succeeding 

B. V. 1346-1375. LUCRETIUS. 241 

times. But they were willing to adopt ' this practice, not so 
much with the hope of conquering, as to cause annoyance to 
the enemy ; and men who distrusted their numbers, and were 
without efficient arms, naturally grew desperate, and were 
ready to perish themselves, if they might hut destroy their op- 

The garment of skins, fastened together, existed before the 
woven dress ; the woven succeeded the discovery of iron ; for 
by iron weaving is performed. Nor, indeed, of any other mate^ 
rial can instruments of such smoothness as treadles, spindles, 
shuttles, and rattling yarn-beams, be produced. 

And nature obliged men to work in wool before women ; 
for all the male sex far excel in art, and are much more inge- 
nious than the female. This state of things continued until 
the sturdy husbandmen made it a reproach to the workers in 
wool; making them consent to resign it to the hands of 
women, and themselves to endure hard labour together vjith 
the tillers of the ground, and strengthen their limbs and hands 
with severe toil. 

But of sowing and planting,^ and of grafting, nature, the 
great producer of all things, was herself the first example and 
origin. For berries and acorns that fell from the trees, ex- 
hibited, in the proper season, a crop of seedlings underneath ; 
from observing which they also ventured to intrust slips to 
the boughs, and to plant young stocks throughout the fields. 

They then tried different methods of tilling the kindly 
soil, and saw wild fruits become improved in their lands by 
being cherished and indulgently cultivated. And they com- 
pelled the woods to withdraw daily farther up the mountains, 
and to give room below for tillage ; so that they might have 
meadows, lakes, rivulets, corn-fields, and rich vineyards 
throughout the hills and plains, and that a green tract of 
olives, marking the ground, might run between other trees, 
stretching far over the heights, and valleys, and plains ; as 
you now see all gardens distinguished with varied beauty, 

* But they were willing to adopt, 4^''.] Ver. 1346. Three verses 
which precede this, and which are evidently spurious or misplaced, 
I have omitted in the translation. Lachmann has ejected them 
from his text. 

* But of sowing and planting.] Ver, 1360. At—satumis Satio 
means both sowing and planting. Grafting may be considered of 
more recent date than Lucretius makes it. 

242 LUCRETIUS. B. V. 1376—1403. 

which, intersected with rows of dulcet apples, men lay out 
and adorn, and which they keep planted around with other 
fruit trees. 

But to imitate with the mouth the liquid voices of birds ' 
was practised long before men could play melodious tunes, 
and delight the ear ivith music. The whistling of the zephyr 
through the empty reeds first taught the rustics to blow 
through hollow stalks. Then by degrees they learned the 
sweet plaintive notes, which the pipe, pressed by the fingers 
of the players, pours forth ; the pipe, which is now found 
through all the pathless groves, and woods, and glades, 
through the solitary haunts, and divine resting-places,^ of the 

Thus time by degrees suggests every discovery, and skill 
evolves it into the regions of light and fame. 

These melodies softened the hearts of those swains, and de- 
lighted them when they were satisfied with food ; for then 
every thing affords pleasure. 

Oftentimes, therefore, stretched upon the soft grass, near a 
rivulet of water, under the boughs of a.high tree, they socially, 
though with no great wealth, gratified their senses with 
pleasure, especially when the weather smiled upon them, and 
the seasons of the year painted the green herbage with flowers. 
Then jests, and pleasant talk, and agreeable laughter, were 
wont to be enjoyed; for then the rustic muse had full vigour 
and influence. Then sportive gaiety prompted them to deck 
their heads and shoulders with garlands of flowers and leaves, 
and to stand forth in irregular dances, moving their limbs 
stiffly, and to stamp on mother earth with heavy foot ; whence 
arose smiles and jocund laughter, because all these exhibitions 
had then greater effect, as being new and wonderful. Hence 

* But to imitate — voices of birds, ^c] Ver. 1378. He says that 
the idea of music was taken from the smging of birds, and that of 
wind instruments from the whistling of the wind among reeds. 

* Divine resting-places.] Ver. 1386. Otia dia. I know not whether 
Lucretius calls the haunts of the shepherds dia because they were 
supposed to be frequented by Fauns and other deities, or because 
they were «w& dio; or whether he uses the epithet in some other 
sense. The commentators give no opinion, except that Creech, in 
his paraphrase, introduces Pastores otio ahundantes, as if he took diua 
for abundant, numerous. But this acceptation I should be unwilling 
to adopt. 

B. V. 1404—1432. LUCRETIUS. 243 

to produce various modulations of voice, and to weave tunes, and 
to run over the reeds with compressed lips, were compensations 
for want of sleep, as they watched during the night From 
whom, also, the men of the present day, wakeful in nocturnal 
orgies^ have received and maintain the same practices,^ and 
have learned to preserve regularity of numbers ; and yet they 
do not, even now, enjoy thejr amusement with greater delight 
than that which the sylvan sons of earth then experienced. 

For that gratification which is present, if we have pre- 
viously known nothing more agreeable, delights us pre-emi- 
nently, and seems to be superior to every thing else; but any 
thing better, which is discovered afterwards, blunts and alters 
our feelings as to all we enjoyed before. Thus dislike of 
acorns came upon mankind; thus those ancient beds, formed 
of grass and leaves, were abandoned. Skins, too, and the 
savage drefes, fell into contempt ; a dress of which I can 
imagine the discovery to have excited such envy,^ that he who 
first wore it, pbssihly died from a treacherous-combination 
against him ; and that his garment, being torn, with much 
bloodshed, among those ivho slew him, was at last spoiled, and 
rendered incapable of being used. 

In those days skins, in these gold and purple, disturb the 
life of men with cares, and harass it with war. In which re- 
gard, as I think, blame has fallen far more justly on us than 
on them. For cold tormented the uncovered children of earth, 
ivhen they were without skins ; but to be destitute of a purple 
garment, adorned with gold and cumbrous figures, causes no in- 
convenience to us, provided that we have, instead of it, a com- 
mon dress that may defend tis against the weather. The 
human race, accordingly, labour perpetually in vain and to no 
purpose, and consume their life in empty cares; evidently 
because they do not know what is the proper limit to acquisi- 
tion, and how far real pleasure extends : and this ignorance 

^ Wakeful in nocturnal orgies, have received and maintain the 
same J^rac^^ces.] Ver. 1407. Undeetiam vigiles nunc hcecaccepta tuentur. 
In these words, as in those immediately preceding, where Lucretius 
speaks of ** compensations for want of sleep," I have followed Wake- 
field's opinion of the sense. Lambinus and Creech thought that 
men unable to sleep from care or disease were intended. 

^ The discovery to have excited such envy.] Ver. 1418. Invidia 
tali repcrtam. 

R 2 

244 LUCRETIUS. b. v. 1433—1456. 

has gradually carried them into a sea of evils, and thorough- 
ly aroused the mighty tumults of war. 

But the wakeful and untiring sun and moon, that illumine 
with their light the vast revolving region of the heaven, taught 
mankind that the seasons of the year proceed, and that every 
thing is carried on, by a certain law and in a certain order. 

T^ey afterwards passed their lives defended with strong 
fortresses, and the earth, divided and marked out^ was culti- 
vated and peopled. 

The sea was next covered with ships for the sake of per- 
fumes.^ Men had auxiliaries and allies, with settled treaties. 
The poets now began to hand down great deeds in their poems; 
letters had only a short time before been discovered. Hence 
our age cannot trace what previously occurred, except so far 
as reason gives indications. 

Ships, and the culture of land, walls of cities, jaws, arms, 
roads, garments, and other things of this kind ; all the bless- 
ings and all the delights of life ; poems, pictures, and artfully- 
wrought statues, improving use,^ and the experience of the 
active mind, proceeding step by step, taught all mankind 
gradually to adopt. 

Thus time by degrees suggests every discovery, and skill 
evolves it into the regions of light and celebrity. Thus, in 
the various arts, we see that different inventions proceed from 
different minds, until they reach the highest point of excel- 

^ For the sake of perfumes.] Ver. 1441. Turn mare velivolis (na- 
vibus sc.) florebat propter odores. This is the reading of Wake- 
field and his followers, as if trading voyages were made for nothing 
hut perfumes. Lamhinus, and his clients, read Turn mare velivolum 
florebat navibu* pandit, Lachmann corrects, fiom conjecture, Turn 
mare velivolis florebat pumnbuSy et res, ^c. 

' Improving use.] Ver. 1450. PoUttis ustis. " Polibxts usua is that 
which either has polish or produces it." Wakefield, 



Lucretius commences with a panegyric on Alliens, as the inventress and 
promoter of useful and elegant arts, and especially as the birth-place of 
Epicurus, whom he again extols, ver. 1 — 42. He then proceeds to treat of 
meteoric appearances in the heavens, and, lest men shotdd be terrified at 
thunder, as proceeding from Jupiter, asserts that it arises entirely from 
natural causes, yer. 43—95. It is produced by the collision, or disruption, 
or corrasion of clouds, ver. 96 — 120 ; or from other causes, ver. 121 — 
159. Lightning, he says, is fire forced out of clouds, either by their 
collision, or by the force of winds, ver. 160—218. Of the nature and origin 
of the thunderbolt, ver. 219 — 322. Of its swiftness, and that of lightning, 
and why storms are more prevalent at the equinoxes, ver. 323 — 378. Ri- 
dicule of those who attribute the origin and direction of storms to the 
gods, ver. 379 — 422. Of the prester, or water-spout, ver. 423 — 450. Of 
the production of clouds, ver. 451 — 494. Of rain, the rain-bow, and 
other natural phasnomena, ver. 495 — 535. Of earthquakes, ver. 536 — 607. 
Of the sea, and why it grows no larger, ver. 608 — 639. Of the fires of 
-Etna, ver. 640—712. Of the Nile, and its exundations, ver. 713—738. 
Of the lake Avemus, and the neighbouring region, with remarks on other 
matters, ver. 739 — 840. Of the temperature of water in wells, and of cer- 
tain remarkable springs, ver. 841—906. Of the magnet, and the causes 
why iron is attracted towards it, illustrated by many remarks on the na- 
ture and influence of atoms, and of different substances, one upon another, 
ver. 907—1088. Of the origin and cause of diseases, ver. 1089—1136 ; 
with a full description of the plague that depopulated Athens during 
the Peloponnesian war, ver. 1137 — 1285. 

246 LUCRETIUS. B. Ti. 1—32. 

In early days, Athens, of illustrious name, first communi- 
cated to suffering mortals the method of producing corn ; 
Athens, also, first improved life, and established laws ; Athens, 
moreover, first afforded sweet consolations of existence, when 
she gave birth to that pre-eminent man, endowed with such 
mighty genius, who once poured forth instrtiction on all siib- 
Jects from his truth-speaking mouth ; and whose fame, spread 
abroad of old on account of his discoveries, is raised, since 
his death, even to the skies. 

For when he observed that almost all things, which neces- 
sity requires for subsistence, and by which mankind may 
render life free from care,' are already prepared for th^m hy 
nature, yet saw that men may abound in wealth, may he 
crowned with honour and applause, and may have pride in 
the good fame of their children, but that, notwithstanding, 
there may be griefs in the heart of each at home, and each 
may disquiet life with unhappy querulousness of mind, he 
understood, at once, the cause which compels them to lament 
with such troublesome complaints ; he perceived that the vessel 
itself was in fault, and that all good things which were collected 
and brought into it from abroad, were spoiled by its imperfection 
within ; he was convinced of this, partly because he saw that 
it was unsound and perforated, so that it could never by any 
means be filled; and partly because he found that it contami- 
nated with an offensive taste, as it were, all things that it had 
received within it. He therefore purged the minds of men 
with the words of truth, and set bounds to desire and fear ; 
he explained what is the chief good at which we all aim, and 
showed the way, in a narrow track, by which we may in a 
straight course arrive at it. And he taught what evil pre- 
vails ^\QTj where in human affairs, which flows and arises 
variously, either from casual accident, or from necessity, ac- 
cording as nature has appointed ; and he showed from what 
portals each ought to be met,^ and proved that mankind re- 

* Render life free from care.] Ver. 11. Vitam consistere tiUam. 
" Consistere is used in an extraordinary sense, for constituere et red- 
dere." Turneb. Advers. ii. 12, cited by Havercamp. 

* From what portals each ought to be met.] Ver. 32. Quihtis e 
portis occurri quoique deceret. ** A metaphor from military affairs, in 
allusion to gates of cities or camps, from which a sally is made, or 
resistance offered, against the enenjy." Lamhinus, 

B. VI. 33— 50. LUCRETIUS. 247 

volve in their breasts, for the most part unnecessarily, the 
sorrowful tumults of care. For as children tremble,* and 
fear every thing in thick darkness, so we, in the light, fear 
sometimes things which are not more to be feared than those 
which children dread, and imagine about to happen, in the 
dark. This terror of the mind, therefore, it is not the rays 
of the sun, or the bright arrows of day, that must dispel, but 
the contemplation of nature and the exercise of reason. For 
which cause, I shall more carefully proceed to complete, 
with some further observations, the undertaking which I have 
in hand. 

And since I have shown that the regions of the world are 
mortal, and that the heaven consists of substance generated 
and perishable, and that whatever things are produced, and 
must necessarily be produced, within it, are for the most part 
necessarily dissolved ; attend now to what further remains to 
be said ; since his friends once more exhort the charioteer to ' 
ascend his stately chariot,"^ testifying-by-their-applause, that 
all things which before were adverse to his course, are now 
altered through their gentle favour. 

But the phcenomena which men observe^ to occur in the 

* For as children tremble, §*c.] Ver. 35. See ii. 55 ; iii. 87. 
' Since — to ascend his stately chariot, 4r<y.] Ver. 47. 

Quandoquidem semel insienem conscendere currum 
Vectorem exhortant plaudendo, ut obvia cursu 
Quae fuerint, sint placato conversa favore. 

This is a locus vexatissimus, in which Forbiger has been daring enough 
to depart from the text of Wakefield, and to offer conjectures of 
his own. " The meaning is evidently,'* says he, " I will proceed 
to sing of the nature of things, since I have once begun, and have, 
with the encouragement of my reader, so far proceeded success- 
fully ; the metaphor being taken from the chariot-races in the Circus 
Maximus." Lambinus and Creech have, 

Quandoc[uidem semel insignem conscendere currum 
Vincendi spes hortata est, atque obvia cursu 
Quae fuerant, sunt placato conversa furore. 

That is, " Since the hone of victory has once prompted me to mount 
my stately chariot, ana since aU things which had been opposed to 
my course, are now altered, aU violence being allayed." But 
the variations in the manuscripts are such^ that to tell whose con- 
jecture approaches nearest to what Lucretius wrote, is impossible. 
Lachmann has another conjecture, which it is not worth while to 
' But the phisnomena which men observe, S^c,'] Ver. 50. Cetera, 

248 LUCRETIUS. B. Ti. 61-73. 

earth and the heavens, when, as often happens, they are per- 
plexed with fearful thoughts, overawe their minds with a 
<^ead of the gods, and humble and depress them to the earth ; 
for ignorance of natural causes obliges them to refer all things 
to the power of the divinities, and to resign the dominion of 
the world to them; because of these eflFects they can by no 
means see the origin, and accordmgli/ suppose that they are 
produced by divine influence. For if those who have fairly 
understood that the gods pass a life free from care, neverthe- 
less wonder, meanwhile, how things can severally be carried 
on, especially in those matters which are seen in the ethereal 
regions above, owr heads, they are* carried back again to their 
old notions of religion, and set over themselves cruel tyrants 
whom they unhappily believe able to do all things ; being 
themselves ignorant what can and what cannot be done ; and 
by what means limited power, and a deeply fixed boundary, 
is assigned to every thing. On which account, through their 
own blind reasoning, they are led away more and more into 

Such fancies unless you expel from your mind, and put far 
from you unworthy thoughts of the gods,* and cease to har- 
bour notions inconsistent with their tranquillity, the sacred 
power of the divinities will often, cw being offended by you,* 
obstruct your peace ;^ not that the supreme majesty of the dei- 
ties can really be violated, so that it should seek, through anger, 
to inflict severe punishment ; but because you yourself, when 

qua fieri in terris caeloque ttietUur mortales, Creech interprets cetera 
by reliqtM; I take it as a conjunction, the same as ctBterum, 

* Put far from you unworthy thoughts of the gods.] Ver. 68. 
Longique remittis ens indigna putare, ** Remittis r6 putare." Wake- 

* Sacred power of the divinities — ^ — offended by you.] Ver. 70. 
DMataper te — numina sancta. Lambinus, after suggesting delibrata 
and delimata, says that he does not altogether disapprove of delibata^ 
if it be considered as a metaphor from wine, quod libando deminutum 
esse intelligitur, Havercamp quotes from Turnebus, Adv. ii. 12, the 
expositions, contamifiata, diminuta, violata, which I have adopted. 
Turnebus adduces from the Auctor ad Herenn. Delibans insitam 
virtutem; to which Havercamp adds from Com. Nepos, (Dat. 6y) ne 
— animi delibarentur militum, where the common editions read debili- 

* Will — obstruct your peace.] Ver. 71. Tibi — obertmt "That is, 
will be before your eyesj and, as if threatening you, will exhibit 
terrible faces from the regions of heaven." Wakefield, Comp. i. 65. 

B. VI. 74—96. LUCRETIUS. 249 

you might he calm in tranquil peace, will suppose that ike gods 
cherish vast floods of wrath against you ; nor will you ap- 
proach the temples of the deities with a heart at ease, nor be 
able to admit into your mind, with placid serenity of contem- 
plation, those images which are borne from the sacred persons 
of the gods,^ as indications of their divine beauty, into the 
breasts of mankind. 

^ Hence you may conceive what sort of life would follow 
such a belief. And although many observations have been 
made by me, to the end that true wisdom may repel such a 
life far from us, many more still remain to be added, and to 
be recommended by smooth verse ; and the nature of things 
above us,^ and of the heaven, is to be understood. Tempests, 
and bright lightnings, are to be sung ; their nature is to be 
told, and from what cause they pursue their course; lest, 
having foolishly divided the heaven into parts,^ you should be 
anxious as to the quarter from which the flying flame may 
come, or to what region it may betake itself; and tremble 
to think how it penetrates through walled enclosures, and how, 
having exercised its power, it extricates itself from them. 
Of which phaenomena the multitude can by no means see the 
causes, and think that they are accomplished by supernatural 

Thou, O skilful muse Calliope, solace of men, and pleasure 
of gods, mark out my path for me, as I run to the white goal 
at the end of the course,* that, under thy guidance, I may at- 
tain a crown with distinguished applause. 

In the flrst place, the blue skies are convulsed with thun- 

' Images— from the sacred persons of the gods.] Ver. 76. Corpore 
qtuB aancto ainmlacra feruntur. He here speaks of the gods, not as 
creatures of the imagination, but as having a certain existence. 

* Nature of things above us.] Ver. 83. Ratio 8upev4m, ** Supera, 
id est, TdjitTtiapaf mitelligendum esse puto." FtAer, With whom 
Wakefield concurs. 

' Having foolishly divided the heaven into parts.] Ver. 86. 
*^This refers to the practice of the augurs and £trurians, of which 
Cicero speaks in his second book De IHbinationef observing that the 
Etrurians divided the heaven into sixteen parts, S^c.'* Lambinua. 

* To the white goal at the end of the coiurse.l Ver. 92. PraBscripta 
ad Candida callis, *' Candida calliSf as vera and ardtta ffia'i, strata vi- 
arum, and a hundred other similar phrases in Lucretius and other 
authors. Lambinus has aptly quoted Seneca, Epist. cviii.^ hane 
quam nunc in Circo cretam vocamus, calcem antigui voeabant ; viz. be- 
cause the goal was covered over with chalk or lime." Wakefield, 

250 LUCRETIUS. b. vi. 97— 12o. 

der, because the clouds in the air, as they fly along on high, 
when winds are opposed to each other, meet together in collision. 
For in a clear part of the sky no noise takes place. But the 
more densely the clouds are collected, in any quarter whatso- 
ever, with 80 much louder a noise does the thunder frequently 
proceed from that quarter. 

The clouds, too, it is to be observed, can neither be of so 
dense a substance as stones and wood are ; nor again, of so 
subtle a consistence as flying mists and smoke are. For, in the 
one case, they would either fall, being brought down by their 
own dead weight, or, in the other, they would, like smoke, be 
unable to keep together, or to retain within them the cold snows 
and showers of hail. 

Clouds also produce a sound, ^ b^ certain motions, athwart 
the regions of the open sky, as canvass, stretched over the 
large theatres, makes a noise when it is tossed about among 
the posts and beams. Sometimes a cloud is ruffled and torn 
in pieces by boisterous winds, and then imitates the rattling 
noise of paper; for that kind ofcrachling you may also ob- 
serve in thunder. Or it sounds as when the winds shake 
with their blasts a hanging garment, or flying sheets of parch- 
ment, and rattle them in the air. 

It sometimes happens, moreover, that clouds cannot so 
much come into collision front to front, as meet side to side, 
rubbing their masses slowly against one another, with various 
movements ; whence that dry hind of sound, which you may 
sometimes observe, strikes upon the ear, and which is pro- 
tracted for some time, until the clouds have escaped from the 
confined space. 

Thus too, not unfrequently, all things around, convulsed 
with violent thunder, seem to tremble, and the mighty walls 
of the capacious world appear at once to have started and 
burst asunder ; and this happens when a collected body of 
strong wind has suddenly involved itself within a cloud, and, 
being shut up there, forces the cloud, (as the whirling air 

* C^ticb also produce a sound, 4f^.] Ver. 108. Dant etiam sonitumt 
&c. Lucretius^ and those of his school, had certainly extravagant 
notions respectmg clouds. In this passage he expresses his opinion 
that a cloua may make a noise like canvass flapping or splitting, 
and, a little below, (ver. 150, seg.,) says that a cloud may be burned 
up, and produce a crackling, like leaves of laurel. Yet he seems in 
general to have thought that clouds were mists : see ver. 495, »eq. 

B. VI. 126—159. LUCRETIUS. 251 

\ , 

stretches it more and more in all directions,) to become hollow, 
but with a thick crust round the cavity. Afterwards, when 
the strong force and spirit of the wind within has fermented, 
it at length, being emitted from confinement, gives a crack, 
with a frightfully-crashing sound. Nor is this surprising, 
when a small bladder, filled with air, often produces, if sud- 
denly burst, a htid sound of a similar kind. 

There is also another reason why the winds, when they 
blow among the cloudy, may produce a sound ; for we often 
see branched and rough clouds carried about in the air in 
various directions. So that such a noise may arise in the 
clouds as when the north-west gales blow through a thick wood, 
and the leaves make a rustling and the boughs crackle. 

It happens, likewise, at times, that the vehement force of a^ 
strong blast tears a cloud asunder, cleaving it through with a 
straight-forward assault. For what the wind may effect in the 
sky, manifest experience demonstrates on the earth, where, 
though it is less violent, it often overthrows and tears up lofty 
woods from their lowest roots. 

There are also waves in the clouds, which, breaking hea- 
vily, make a murmuring noise ; such as is likewise excited 
in deep rivers, and in the vast sea, when it is broken and 
rages with the tide. 

It occurs, moreover, that when the burning violence of 
lightning passes from one cloud into another, the second cloud,^ 
if it receives the fire into a large body of moisture, imme- 
diately extinguishes it with a loud noise ; as hot iron, taken 
from a glowing furnace, hisses when we plunge it into the 
cold water standing near. 

Further, if a cloud, which is mo|iB dry than ordinary, re- 
ceives the lightning, itis&X once set on fire, and scorched up 
with a loud sound ; such as is heard if a flame, on any occa- 
sion, spreads over hills covered with laurel, burning it up 
with great fury, and impelled by a storm of wind. Nor does 
any substance burn with a more startling sound, as the flame 
crackles anu>ng its boughs, than the Delphic laurel of Phoebus. 

In addition, we may observe that a great crashing of ice, 
and fall of hail, among the vast clouds in the sky, frequently 
produce a loud sound. For masses of cloud, closely con- 
densed, and mixed with hail, are, when the wind compresses 
them, shattered and broken to pieces. 

252 LUCRETIUS. e. vi. 160-184. 

It lightens, also, when the clouds, by their collision, have 
struck out numerous atoms of fire ; just as if a stone strikes 
another stone, or a piece of iron ; for then, in like manner, a 
light bursts forth, and scatters abroad bright sparks of fire. 

But it always happens that we hear l^e sound of the thun- 
der some time after we perceive it lighten,* because objects, 
which affect the hearing, always come more slowly to the ears, 
than those, which affect the sight, arrive at the eye. This you 
may easily understand from the following instance. If you 
observe a man at a distance cutting down the trunk of a tree 
with an axe, you will see the stroke itself before the noise of 
the stroke makes any sound in the air. So, too, we see the 
lightning before we hear the thunder, which, however, is 
emitted at the same time with the flash, and produced from 
the same collision of the clouds. 

Clouds, likewise, sometimes tinge the parts around with 
swiftly-diffused light, and the storm gleams with tremulous 
ardour, from the following cause : when wind has penetrated 
a cloud, and, rolling about within it, has made the cloud (as 
I showed above) become hollow in the middle, and condensed 
round about, it acquires heat by its own activity, as you see 
all bodies glow when made warm by motion ; and a ball of 
lead, from being whirled ^ through a long space, even melts. 
This hot wind, accordingly, when it has burst a dark cloud, 
suddenly scatters atoms of heat, which are, as it were, driven 
but by its violence, and which cause the vibrating gleams of 
the lightning. Then follows the noise, which affects the ear 
more slowly than the beams which come to our eyes^ strike 

* But — we hear the sound of the thunder some time after we perceive 
it lighten, 4r^.] Ver. 164. " The flash of lightning succeeds the noise 
of the thunder, but is perceit^ed before it, because the sense of seeing 
is quicker than that of hearing." Aristotle^ Meteor, b. ii. "The 
true reason is, that the appearances of visible objects are always 
ready for the sense ; but with sounds it is otherwise ; for unless 
bodies are struck or dashed together no sound is produced." Faber. 

* From being whirled.] Ver. 179. Glansetiam Umgo cursu volvunda 
liquescit. "Volvunda, volubilis, vel dum vol vitur." Lambinus. 

' Bcame which come to our eyes.] Ver. 184. Quat perveniunt ocu- 
lorum ad limina nostra. The limina is Wakefield's, and Lachmann 
calls him ineptiarum amator for adopting it. All other editions, ex- 
cept Forbiger's and Eichstadt's, have lumina. Oculorum lumina 
occurs iv. 826, 837; vi. 1180. Lambinus read qutB perveniunt oculos 
ad lumina nostros^ i. e. "lumina quae ad nostros oculos perveniunt." 
But oculorum lumina is much to be preferred. 

B. VI. 185-218. LUCRETIUS. 253 

them. This, you will understand, takes place when the clouds 
are condensed, and when they are piled, at the same time, 
high above one another, with extraordinary effect.* 

And do not be misled by the circumstance^ that we, from 
below, see more plainly how broad the clouds are, than how 
high they are built up. For observe their appearance, when 
the winds will carry these clouds, resembling great mountains, 
along through the air ; or when you shall see, on the sides of 
high hills, some clouds piled upon others, and those placed in 
the upper region, while the winds are buried in repose, press- 
ing down those in the lower ; and you will then be able to 
comprehend their vastness of bulk, and observe the caverns 
within them, which are formed as it were of hanging rocks ; 
and when the winds, at the rising of a tempest, have filled 
them, the winds themselves, being thus confined within the 
clouds, complain with a loud murmuring, and utter , threats 
like wild beasts in dens. Sometimes they send their roarings 
in one direction, and sometimes in another, through the clouds, 
and, seeking an outlet, turn themselves about, and roll to- 
gether atoms of fire from the cloudy-masses ; and thus they 
collect many igneous particles, and whirl about the flames 
within as in hollow furnaces, until, the cloud having burst, 
they dart forth with a flash. 

From this cause, also, it happens, that that gleaming golden 
colour of liquid fire flies down upon the earth ; inasmuch as 
the clouds themselves must of necessity contain many atoms 
of fire ; as, when they are without any moisture, their colour 
is generally fiery and shining. For they must receive many 
igneous particles from the light of the sun, so that they na- 
turally look red, and send forth fire. When, therefore, the 
wind, driving them along, has thrust, compressed, and con- 
densed them into one place, they pour forth the atoms of fire, 
which are squeezed out, and which cause the colour of flame 
to shine through the shy. 

It likewise lightens when the clouds in heaven are rare- 
fied. For when the wind gently divides and attenuates them 
as they pass, those atoms, which cause the lightning, must 
fall even in spite of them ; and then it lightens without any 
great terror, or sounds, or commotion. 

» With extraordinary effect.] Ver. 186. Impete miro. ** That is, 
*mird celeritate, or miro impetu,'* Lamhinua, Creech would read tigmine. 

254 LUCRETIUS. b. vi. 219—242. 

Of what nature, moreover,* the lightning consists, its strokes, 
and the signs and marks which are barnt into objects by its 
fire, and which exhale a strong scent of sulphur, sufficiently 
indicate. For these are tokens of fire, and not of wind or 

Besides, lightnings often set on fire the roofs of houses, and 
revel with a swift fiame throughout houses themselves. For 
nature has formed this attenuated fire, you may be sure,^ of 
the most minute particles of flame, and with the subtlest mo- 
tions and atoms, so that nothing whatever can resist it. Pow- 
erful lightning, indeed, passes through the walls of houses like 
sounds and voices ; it passes through stones and brass, and 
melts brass and gold in a moment. It causes wine, also, 
to flow out suddenly from vessels which still remain entire ; 
because, as is evident, its heat, at its contact, easily relaxes 
and expands all the earthen-substance of the vessel ;^ so that, 
penetrating into the liquid itself, it actively separates and dis- 
pels the atoms of the wine ; agitating it with its flashing heat 
to a degree which the warmth of the sun seems unable to pro- 
duce in an age ; so much more active and forcible is this in- 
fluence of lightning. 

How these lightnings are generated, and become possessed 
of such force, that they can split towers with a stroke, overturn 
houses, tear away beams and planks, demolish and scatter 
abroad the monuments of heroes, deprive men of life, destroy 

' Moreover.] Ver. 219. Qtiod superest " Proinde." Creech. 
- For nature has formed this attenuated fire, you may be sure, 4fc.] 
Ver. 225. 

Hunc tibi subtilem cum primis ignibus ignem 
Constituit natura minutis motibus atque 
Corporibus — 

which must be construed, apparently, thus : Hunc subtilem ignem fia- 
tura constituit (ex) ignibus cum-primis minutis ^ minutis being under- 
stood also with motibus and corporibus. But the reading is, in truth, 
absurd. Lambinus edited mohilibusque corporibus^ which Lachmann 
has had the good sense to replace. 

' All the earthen-substance of the vessel.] Ver. 232. Omnia — late- 
ramina vasi. Wakefield takes lateramiria for latera, sides. But what 
analogy shall be found to support him? Scheller, in his Lexicon, 
says that lateramen is " probably from an obsolete verb, latero^ -are^ 
from later f i. e. facere ex lateribus,** and so may signify "any thing 
made of tiles ; lateramina vasis, Lucret. vi. 232, probably earthenware. ' ' 
Forbiger justly observes that it is a aira^ Xeyofievov, 

B. VI. 243—274. LUCRETIUS. 255 

whole herds of cattle at once ; and with what power they can 
effect all other things of this kind, I will now proceed to ex- 
plain, nor will I delay you longer with promises.^ 

It must be admitted that lightnings are produced from 
clouds that are dense, and piled high in the air; for none are 
ever emitted from a clear sky, or from clouds that are but thinly 
collected. For doubtless manifest observation shows this to 
be the case ; because, at the time when thunder is heard^ the 
clouds are condensed from all sides through the whole atmo- 
sphere, so that we might suppose all the darkness to have left 
Acheron, and to have filled the immense vault of heaven ; so 
formidably, when the dire gloom of storms has collected, and 
when the tempest begins to forge its thunderbolts, does the 
face of black terror impend over the earth from above. 

Over the sea, too, very frequently, a black stormy cloud, 
like a flood of pitch flowing down from heaven, so terribly 
descends upon the waters, and rolls onward in such thick 
darkness, and draws with it a black tempest so pregnant with 
thunder and hurricanes, (being charged,too, to the utmost with 
fire and wind,) that even men upon land shudder and seek 
shelter in their houses. Thus, therefore, we must believe that 
tempestuous-clouds rise high above our heads ; for neither 
could clouds overwhelm the earth with such thick darkness, 
(the sun being wholly obscured,) unless they were built up, 
numbers- upon numbers, to a great height ; nor could they, 
when descending in rain, deluge the earth with such vast 
showers, as to make the rivers overflow, and the plains a sheet 
of water, unless the atmosphere contained clouds ranged high 
over one another. 

In the air, therefore, at the time of storms, all parts of the 
clouds are replete with wind and fire ; and thus thunders and 
lightnings are produced. For I have shown above that the 
hollow clouds must contain many atoms of heat ; and they 
must also of necessity receive many from the rays and warmth 
of tlie sun.2 Thus, when the same wind, which has collected 
the clouds by chance into any one place, has elicited /row* them 

^ Delay you longer with promises.] Ver. 245. Neque te in pro- 
missis plura morabor. He has already said so much, that«there ap- 
pears to be no cause for this observation. 

^ Rays and warmth of the sun. J Ver. 273. Ex solis radiia ardoreque 


256 LUCRETIUS. b. n. 275—298. 

ihanj atoms of heat, and with that heat has mingled itself, 
the vortex of windy compressed within the cloud, whirls itself 
about in it, and sharpens the lightning, as in a hot furnace, 
within its depths. For this wind is heated in two ways ; it 
both grows warm by its own motion, and by the contact of fire. 
Then, when the substance of the wind has grown hot of itself, 
or the strong influence of fire has excited it, the lightning, 
being ripe as it were, bursts suddenly through the cloud, and 
the fiery gleam is roused and driven forth, ^ illumining all 
places with vibrating light; close upon which follows the 
awful crash 2 of thunder ^ so that the regions of heaven above 
seem suddenly to be disruptured, and to totter. Tremor 
then violently pervades the earth, and murmurs run along the 
lofty skies ; for almost all the stormy air then trembles with 
the shock, and loud noises are sent forth ; after which concus- 
sion follows heavy and abundant rain, so that the whole sky 
seems to be turned into showers, and thus, falling precipitately, 
to excite the waters to a new deluge.^ So mighty a sound issues 
forth from the displosion of a cloud, and from a tempest of 
wind, when the lightning flies abroad with its burning impetus. 
Sometimes, too,* the vehement force of the wind falls upon 
a dense cloud externally, striking on its summit just ripe for 
explosion;^ and, when it has burst through it, there flies out 
instantly the fiery vortex® which we, in our native language, 

* Is roused and driven forth.] Ver. 283, 4. Fertur — percitus. 

* Close upon which follows the awful crash, ^c] Ver. 285. Qtiem 
gravis insequitur aonituSy S^c, 

Follows the loosen 'd aggravated roar, 

Enlarging, deep'ning, mingling ; peal on peal 

Crush'd norrible ; convulsmg heaven and earth. Thomson. 

* To excite the water» to a new deluge.] Ver. 292. Ad diluviem 
revocare, ** To call together anew, as it were, the whole body of 
rain, in order to spread a second deluge over the earth." Wakejfield, 

* Sometimes, too, §*c.] Ver. 295. Est etiam^ qtiom. ^^ Est qtmm is 
est qtiandoj as in Greek i<mv orSf equivalent to aliquando and intei- 
dum . ' ' Lamhinus, 

* On its summit just ripe for explosion,'] Ver. 296. Maiuro a cul- 
mine. This is Wakefield's reading, and is rendered according to his 
interpretation. Lambinus, whom Lachmann follows, reads fnaturo 
fulmine^ i, e. the lightning being ripe for eruption. 

* Fiery vortex.] Ver. 297. Iffneus — Vortex, "He very properly 
adds igneus, for if it were a vortex without fire, bursting from a dis- 
ruptured cloud, it would not be fulmen^ but what in Greek is called 

B. VI. 298—321. LUCRETIUS. 257 

call lightning. And this is not confined to one point^only^ 
but extends to other parts, wheresoever the force of the vnnd 
has difiTused itself. 

It happens at times, also, that a furious wind, though issu- 
ing forth without fire, yet ignites as it goes, in a long space, 
and protracted flight ; losing, too, in its course, some of those 
larger atoms which cannot penetrate through the air equally 
with the smaller; and collecting from the air itself, as it flies 
through it, some of those minute particles which, when mixed, 
generate fire ; almost in the same manner as a ball of lead 
very frequently grows hot in its course, when, throwing off 
many atoms of cold, it conceives heat in the atmosphere. 

It occurs, moreover, that the force of a mere stroke excites 
fire w a cloudy when a cold blast of wind, darting forth with- 
out any fire at aU, has struck upon it; because, as is evident, 
when the wind has dashed against the cloud with a violent 
impetus, atoms of heat may flow both from the vnnd itself, 
and also from that cloudy substance which then receives its 
impact ; just as fire flies out when we strike a stone with 
iron ; nor, because the substance of iron is cold^ do those par- 
ticles of igneous brightness the less, on that account, flow 
together at the stroke. Thus any substance, likewise, must 
naturally be kindled by lightning, if it be adapted and dis- 
posed to take fire. Nor can the substance of the wind be 
easily supposed to be altogether cold, considering its rapid 
flight from the parts whence it was so forcibly discharged 
from above ;^ for though it be not kindled by heat in its 

Tv(i><t)Vy or Uve<l>iaQ," Lambinua, By these words the Greeks meant 
a hurricane^ or perhaps sometimes the wind that produces a water- 
spout. See Pan. N. H. ii. 48, ^^, Sen. Nat. Qusest. v. 12. It is 
apparent therefore that Lucretius means a fiery wind or hurricane, 
but I have thought it better to retain vortex in the English. 
* Whence it was so forcibly discharged from above.] Ver. 317. 

Nee temere omnino plan^ vis frigida venti 
Esse potest : ex quo tant& vi missa superne est. 

Lambinus explains ex ^uo by ex quo tempore^ or ex quo loco, giving 
this turn to the passage : We can hardl]^* suppose the wind itself 
to be quite cold wtien it strikes the cloud, if we reflect on the dis- 
tance from which it came, and the rapidity of its descent. — Creech 
interprets, ^' cum tanto impetu ^ nubibus emittitur,'' as if he thought 
that ex qvp might be taken in the sense of dim or propterea quod ; a 
sense which it will, perhaps, bear. 


258 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 322—349; 

descent before it arrives in these lower regions, it yet comes 
to them tepid and mixed with warmth. 

But the activity and impulse of the lightning are so great 
as you observe them to be, and the thunderbolts in general 
fly with so swift a descent, because the force of the wind, 
when roused, first collects itself fully within the clouds, and 
makes a great struggle to issue forth. Then, when the cloud 
can no longer restrain the increased-violence of its efforts, its 
fury bursts out, and flies, accordingly, with wonderful impe- 
tus, like darts which are hurled from powerful engines. 

Add to this, that it consists of small and smooth particles ; 
nor is it easy for any body to withstand so subtle a substance ; 
for it winds and penetrates through the most minute pas- 
sages. It is not, therefore, checked or delayed* by many 
obstacles, and it accordingly flies and spreads with the most 
active swiftness. 

Consider, further, that all bodies universally tend down- 
wards by nature ; and that, when an impulse is added, the 
swiftness is doubled, and the force aggravated ; so that what- 
ever obstacles oppose its power, it but the sooner and more 
vigorously scatters them with a stroke, and pursues its own 

Besides, that which comes to the earth with a long flight, 
must acquire speed; which continually increases^ by progres- 
sion, and augments its vehement impetus, and gives force to 
its^ stroke. For its velocity causes whatever atoms there are 
in the body, to be borne forward,^ as it were, straight to 
one point, combining them all, as they roll on, in that single 

Perhaps the lightning, too, may, in its passage through the 
sky, attract to itself certain particles from the air, which may 
increase the violence of its strokes. 

And it passes through substances that remain uninjured, 
and penetrates many objects that continue unaltered, because 

* It is not, therefore, cheeked or delayed.] Ver. 333. Non — in 
remorando hcesitat. — Flies and spreads.] Volat labens. It is observ- 
able that Ltlcretius has here used impetis and impete, in the fifth 
foot, three times in eight verses. 

^ Continually increases.] Ver. 341. Etiam atque etiam crescU, 
" Semper intenditur." Creech. 

' Forward.] Ver. 344. E regione. "Directo." Lambinus. 

B. VT. 350—376. LUCRETIUS. 259 

the liquid fire finds a passage into 'them by the pores. And 
many bodies it rends asunder, when the atoms of the lightning 
strike against the atoms of their substances, where they are 
held in close contexture. 

It moreover easily dissolves brass, and melts gold in a mo- 
ment, because its substance consists of infinitely small parti- 
cles, and of atoms that are smooth, which easily penetrate 
bodies, and, when they have penetrated, suddenly dissolve all 
connexions, and loosen all bonds. 

The vault of heaven,*, studded with glittering stars, and 
the whole earth round about, are shaken with thunder in 
autumn, and when the flowery season of spring displays it- 
self, more than at other times. For in winter heat is deficient ; 
and in summer the winds fail, and the clouds are not of so 
dense a consistence. But when the seasons of the year are 
between the two, all the various causes of thunder then con- 
cur. For the intermediate-portion of the year^ blends the 
cold and the heat, both of which are necessary to produce 
thunder for us ; so that, for the generation of it, there may be 
a discord in things, and that the atmosphere, raging with heat 
and wind, may be agitated with a vast tumult. For the be- 
ginning of summer, and the end of winter, is the season of 
spring ; from which cause the two dissimilar natures, heat and 
cold, must at that time jar with one another, and produce a 
commotion as they mingle. And the termination of summer 
comes on, meeting the commencement of winter; at a time 
which is called the season of autumn ; and then, too, violent 
colds contend with violent heals. These seasons may, there- 
fore, be styled the War-times op the Year.^ Nor is it 
wonderful if, at these conjunctures, much thunder- and-light- 
ning takes place, and if tumultuous tempests are excited in 
the sky, since there arises disturbance from doubtful strife on 

* The vault of heaven, §•<;.] Ver. 857. He now proceeds^ to ex- 
plain why thunder and lightning are more frequent in spring and 
autumn than at other seasons. 

* Intermediate-portion of the year.] Ver. 864. Fretus ipse anni. 
" By fretua (the same as /return) annij Lucretius signifies those 
parts of the year which are' between the cold of winter and the 
neat of summer; using metaphorically a word which signifies a 
separation between two portions of the earth." Lambinus. 

* War-times of the year.] Ver. 874. BeUa anni. 

8 2 

260 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 377—400. 

either hand ; heat contending on the one side, and winds, 
mingled with rain, on the other. 

This is the way to learn the true nature of igneous light- 
ning, and to understand by what power it produces every 
effect ; not to seek for indications of the hidden mind of the 
gods, by turning over, with futile research, the verses of 
Etruria,^ superstitiously observing whence the fleeting fire has 
come, or to which quarter it has turned itself; how it has 
penetrated through walled apartments, and how, having exer- 
cised its power, it has extricated itself from them ; or what 
injury the stroke of a bolt from heaven can inflict. 

But if Jupiter, and the other gods, shake the shining re- 
gions of heaven with terrific thunder, and hurl the lightning 
whithersoever each has thought fit, why do they not take 
special care that those, who are guilty of reckless and detest- 
a^ wickedness,^ may, being struck, inhale the flames of light- 
ning into their pierced breasts, as a bitter warning to mortals? 
And why rather is he, who is conscious to himself of no one 
disgraceful act, involved and overwhelmed, innocent as he is, 
with flames, and carried off suddenly with a whirlwind and 
fire from heaven ? 

Why, also, if the gods hurl thunderbolts at men, do they 
ever seek solitary places, and labour in vain? Or do they 
then exercise their arms, and strengthen their elbows?^ And 
why, it may be asked, do they suffer the weapon of father Ju- 
piter to be blunted against the earth ? Or why does he him- 
self suffer it, and not save it for his enemies ? 

Furthermore, why does Jupiter never hurl his bolts over 

^ Verses of Etruria.] Ver. 381. Tyrrhena carmina. The Etrus- 
cans were famous for auguries and divinations, which are said to 
have been taught them oy a man named Tages, who sprung up 
among them from the earth. See Cic. de Div. lib^ ii., and Ovid 
Met. XV. 558. Tlie rules and precepts of their art were written in 

* Reckless and detestable wickedness.] Ver. 390. Incautum scelus 
aversabile. Incautum scelua is wickedness from which men have taken 
no care to abstain, but which they have committed in defiance of 
consequences or of the opinion of others. 

' Exercise their arms, and strengthen their elbows.] Ver. 396. 
Rrachia consuescunU firmantgue laeertos. Brachium was properly the 
arm from the wrist to the elbow ; lacertus was the part from the 
elbow to the shoulder. We have no words t6 distinguish the two 

B. VI. 401^-424. LUCRETIUS. 261 

the earth, and scatter abroad thunder, from a clear sky? 
Does he wait till storms threaten, and, when the clouds have 
spread over the heaven, come down into their vortex,^ that he 
may hence aim the strokes of his weapon yrow a nearer point f 
For what reason, moreover, does he hurl his bolts into the sea? 
Of what does he accuse the waves, and the watery flood, and 
the liquid plains ? 

Besides, if he wishes us to guard against the blow of the 
thunder-bolt, why does he hesitate to contrive means that we 
may see it when it is hurled ? But if he desires to overwhelm 
us with his lightning unawares, why does he thunder in the 
quarter from which he aims, so that we may avoid it? Why 
does he first excite darkness, and noises, and murmurings in 
the air f 

And how can you believe that he hurls his bolts in various 
directions at the same time?^ Or would you venture to say it 
never occurs that many strokes take effect at the same time ? 
But it has often occurred, and must often occur, that as, in a 
storm, rains and showers fall on many places at once, so many 
thunder-strokes are discharged on the earth at the same mo- 

Moreover, why does he shatter the sacred temples* of the 
other gods, and his own stately abodes, with his destructive 
lightning ? And wht/ does he break in pieces the well-wrought 
statues of the divinities, and rob his own images of honour by 
violent disfigurement ? And why does he generally aim at 
high places ? at which it is evident that he does aim, inasmuch 
as we see most traces of his fire, and see them more distinctly, 
upon the loftiest mountains. 

Furthermore, it is easy to understand from these observa- 
tions, how those phcsnomena, which the Greeks from their na- 
ture have called npijor^pfc,^ sent down from above, descend into 

* Come down into their vortex.] Ver. 402. In jtttum descendit, 
jEsttta is tumult, surge. But all editors, except Wakefield and his 
followers, read ipse in eas turn, gc. nuhes. 

* — hurls his holts in various directions at the same time.] Ver. 
411. ^' If vou say that Jupiter hurls thunderbolts, you will either 
afiirm or aeny that he hurls them in several places at the same 
time. If you afiirm it, how will you make it credible ? If you deny 
it, experience will refute you." Lambintts. 

* Sfiatter the sacred temples.] Ver. 416. Compare ii. 1101, seq, 

* npijcrr^pec.] Ver. 424. By 7rpjj<m)p (from irpril^kt, to bum) Lu- 

262 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 425—449. 

the sea. For it sometimes happens that they drop, like a 
column let down, from the sky into the ocean ; around which 
column the waters boil, being excited by violent blasts of wind ; 
and whatever vessels are then caught in that vortex, are tossed 
about, and incur the greatest danger. This occurs, when 
{as is at times the case) the impetuous force of the wind is 
not able to burst a cloud of which it has taken possession, but 
bears it down, so that it becomes, by degrees, like a pillar 
reaching from the heaven into the sea ; as if something were 
thrust down from above with a hand, and the force of an arm, 
and stretched into the waters. Hence, when the fury of the 
wind has burst the cloud, it rushes forth into the sea, and ex- 
cites an extraordinary agitation among the waves. For the 
blast descends as a rolling whirlwind, and brings down with 
it the cloud, tohich is of b. yielding substance, and not easy to 
be disruptured; and when it has once thrust the heavy body 
of the cloud into the water of the ocean, it suddenly plunges 
itself wholly into the waves, and disturbs all the sea with a 
mighty noise, forcing it to boil tvith agitation. 

It happens also, at times, that a vorlex of wind^ involves 
itself in clouds, gathering up cloudy atoms from the air, and 
imitates as it were a prester sent down from heaven. When 
this vortex has descended to the earth, and has burst, it vomits 
forth, and tempests abroad, ^ the impetuous fury of a whirl- 
wind. But such a vortex, because it is formed but seldom, 

cretius means a hot or fiery wind, involved in a cloud, which it de- 
pressed towards the earth. If, in its descent, it alighted on the sea, 
it produced what we call a water-spout ; if it came down on the land, 
it was a whirlwind. This was the doctrine of Epicurus: see Diog. 
Laert. x. 104. The irprfffrrjp might, however, burst from the cloud, 
and scorch or hum any object. ^ Thus, in Xen. Hell. i. 3, 1, it is 
said that the temple of Minerva in Phocaea was burned, Trpjjarijpoc 
efiiriffdvTog, i. e. having been, as we should say, struck by lightning. See 
Plin. N. H. ii. 48 : Quod si majore depressae nubis eruperit specu — 
turbinem vocant, proxima quaeque prosternentem : — idem ardentior 
accensusqtte dtim fiirit prester vocatur, amburens contacta pariter et 
proterens. See also Sen. Nat. Quaest. v. 13. 

* It happens also, at times, that a vortex of wind, 4rc.] Ver. 443. 
In this paragraph Lucretius speaks of wind in a cloud which imi- 
tates or resembles a prester, but which is not fiery. 

' Tempests abroad.] Ver. 447. Procellat, 

Part huge of bulk. 
Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait, 
Tempest the ocean. Milton, P. L. vii. 410. 

B. VI. 450-475. LUCRETIUS. 263 

and becatcse the hills must obstruct its progress on the land, 
appears more commonly in the wide prospect and open atmo-, 
sphere over the sea. 

Clouds are formed, when many atoms of a rough and hooked 
nature, flying in the higher region of the heaven above its, 
have suddenly come together and combined; atoms which, 
though attached onlt/ in a slight degree, may yet be held 
united in a body. These first cause small clouds. to gather; 
those small clotids then unite * and are combined with one 
another, and, as they join, swell and are carried along by the 
winds with such violence^ that at length a raging tempest 

It occurs, too, that the nearer to any part of the sky the 
elevated summits of hills are, so much the more constantly do 
they smoke, as it were, with the thick mist of a yellow cloud 5^ 
because, when the clouds first gather, and before the eye can 
discern their thin substance, the winds, carrying them off, col- 
lect them on the highest tops of the hills. Here at last it 
happens, that, when a larger collection is formed, one dense 
and solid cloud seems both to show itself and to rise at the 
same time from the summit of the hills into the clear sky. 
For the nature of the ground itself, and our own perceptions 
as we climb high mountains, demonstrate that breezy emi- 
nences^ are open to the ascent of exhalations. 

Besides, that nature raises many atoms of vapour from the 
whole surface of the ocean, gariQcnts suspended upon the shore 
testify ; inasmuch as they contract and retain moisture.* ' To 
augment the clouds, therefore, many atoms seem likely to 
arise from the motion of the eolt water ; for the nature and 
action of all waters is similar. 

^ Those small clouds then unite.] Ver. ^56, Inde ea comprendunt 
inter se. Ea, sc. parva nubila, 

^ With such violence, that at length a raging tempest arises.] Ver. 
458* Uaqite adeo donee tempestat aceva coorta est, 

^ Thick mist of a yellow cloud.] Ver. 461. Ftdvee nvbis caligine 
crassd. Thomson borrows this expression : 

A yellow mist 
Far smoking o'er th' interminable plain. Spring, 193. 

* Breezy eminences.] Ver. 468. Loca sursum ventosa, 

* Contract and retain moisture.] Ver. 472. Concipiunt kumoris ad- 
hcBsum, conceive an adhesion of moisture. — Motion of the salt water. *] 
Ver. 474. Salso momine ponti. 

264 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 47&— 496. 

Moreover, we observe mists and vapours arise from all 
rivers, and from the earth itself also, which, exhaled from it 
like a breath, are in the same manner carried upwards, and 
cover the sky with obscurity, and, uniting together by de- 
grees, form clouds high in the air. For the influence ^ of the 
starry heaven above, too, keeps down the vapours, and, con- 
densing them, weaves the blue sky over, as it were, with 

It is possible, likewise, that to this assemblage of clouds^ 
may come seminal-atoms from without the heaven, which may 
assist to form mists and flying storms. For I have shown 
that the number of primordial-atoms is countless, and that the 
extent of the depth of space is infinite ;^ and I have demon- 
strated, too, with how great celerity seminal-particles fly, and 
how instantaneously they have power to pass through an in- 
expressible distance.* It is not, therefore, wonderful if storms 
and darkness, diffused from above,^ cover, in a short time, 
such vast mountains, as well as the whole sea and land ; since 
on every side, exits and entrances are allowed to the elemen- 
tal atoms, through all the passages of the air, and, as it were, 
through all the breathing-places of the vast universe around. 

Attend now, and I will explain how rain® collects in the 
clouds above, and how the showers are precipitated and de- 

* Influence.! Ver. 481. jEstus. " By tetheris aestus understand 
those atoms which, continually proceeding from the heaven, com- 

Sreis the thin clouds, by impacts upon them, into showers." Creech. 
ee the next.paraffraph. 

' To this assemblage of clouds."] Ver. 483. Hunc — in catum — illi, 
" Illi, icil. vortici, vel nubi." Forbiger. Lambinus reads iUa, agree- 
ing with corpora. 

■ The extent of the depth of space is infinite.] Ver. 485. SMwimam- 
qus profundi^ Esse infinitam. See i. 957, seq. Of the swiftness of 
atoms, see ii. 141, seq. 

* Inexpressible distance.] Ver. 488. Immemorabile per spatium. 
" AvsKdiriyriTov, inexplicabile, immensum.'* Faber, ad iv. 193, where 
the same word occurs. 

* Difiused from above.] Ver. 491. Impensa supeme. " What is 
the exact signification of this word impensa^ or whence it is formed, 
is to me not very clear. Lambinus refers it to impendor; but it ap- 
pears to me that there is nothing common between these two words ; 
and I should have little hesitation in assigning impensa, as well as 
suspensa, to the root pando; but in the silence of me old grammarians 
it becomes me to express my suspicions with modesty." Wakejield, 

* Rain.] Ver. 485- Pluvitts humor. 

B. VI. 497-^21. LUCRETIUS. 265 

scend upon the earth. In the first place I shall observe,^ that 
many atoms of moisture arise, together with the clouds them- 
selves,^ from all things on the earth, and that both these sub- 
stances, the clouds and the water which is contained in the 
clouds, increase together, in the same manner as our body 
grows together vnth the blood that is in it, and as sweat and 
other moisture, which are diffused throughout the limbs, are 
augmented together with them. The clouds, too, when the wind 
drives them over the wide sea, frequently attract much mois- 
ture from the salt water, like fleeces of wool suspended in the 
air. In like manner moisture is raised from all rivers into the 
clouds; where, when numerous particles of water have in 
many ways collected, and have been augmented from every 
quarter, the swollen clouds strive for two reasons to discharge 
themselves ; for the force of the wind presses them ; and the 
mass of clouds itself, when a greater body than ordinary has 
united, urges and weighs them down from above, and makes 
the rain flow forth upon the earth. 

Moreover, when the clouds are rarefied by the wind, or when 
they are dissolved by the influence of the sun's heat from 
above, they forthwith discharge rain ; their moisture distilling 
as wax,3 thoroughly melted, drops over a strong fire. 

But violent rain takes place, when the clouds are vehe- 
mently urged by both forces ; being densely heaped upon one 
another, and pressed by the impetuosity of the Mrind. 

And rains are accustomed to last long, and to continue for 
a considerable period, when many particles of moisture flow 
together,^ and when there are clouds on clouds^ heaped one 

* I shall observe.] Ver. 498. Vincam, This verb properly sig- 
nifies, I tnll demonstrate or prove; but as he offers little or no proof on 
the point, I have thought fit to translate it by a lighter word. 

* Arise, together with the clouds themselves.] Ver. 498. Conavr- 
gere niMbue ipeis, I have followed Creech in understanding cum or 
una cum.^ That clouds do rise from the earth he has already re- 
marked in ver. 476, seq. 

* They — discharge rain— distilling as wax, 4rc.] Ver. 515. Mittunt 
fiumorem pluvium ; itillante quaai igni Cera liguescat. This is Wake- 
field's reading. With etiUante you must understand, si diit placet, 
" humore." But Lambinus, and all his followers, have eHUantgtie. 

* Flow together.] Ver. 520, 522. Fluenter—feruntur, But this is 
a most inconvenient and unsatisfactory construction. For fluenter 
Lambinus has fuerunt, and Lachmann cierunt, either of which makes 
very good sense. 

* Clouds on clouds.] Ver. 521. Nvbea nimMque^ 

266 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 522—550. 

over another, pouring down water from above, and from every 
part around ; and when the whole earth, fuming with va- 
pour, sends back moisture into the air. 

Then, when the sun, in the midst of a dark storm, and 
when the rain descends opposite to him, has shone upon the 
shower with his rays, the hues of the rainbow appear upon 
the black clouds. 

Other matters, which gather above us, and are produced 
above tis, and all bodies (all / sat/, without exception) * which 
collect in the clouds, as snow, wind, hail, and cold frost, as 
well as the strong power of ice, the great hardener of the 
waters, and the restraint which every where delays the eager 
rivers ; all these, though numerous, it is yet very easy to un- 
derstand, and to comprehend how they are produced, and 
from what cause they arise, when you have thoroughly learned 
what virtues and qualities belong to the atoms which constitute 
their substance, 
^ Give me now your attention further, and learn what is the 
cause of earthquakes.^ And first, suppose the earth to be 
below, as it is above, filled in every part with airy caverns, 
and containing also, in its bosom, many lakes and many pools, 
as well as stones and fissured rocks ; while you must likewise 
suppose that it rolls along forcibly, beneath the surface of the 
soil, many hidden rivers, floods, and submerged rocks ; for 
nature herself requires that the earth be similar to itself 

These points, then, being laid down and admitted, the earth 
quakes on the surface, when it is shaken by great falls of sub- 
stances beneath, as when age brings down vast caverns ; for 
then whole mountains sink, and, from the violent shock, trem- 
blings spread far and wide in a moment ; an effect which we 
may naturally imagine ; since whole houses totter by the side 
of a road, when shaken with waggons, though of no great 
weight \ nor are edifices less agitated ^ when the stout drivers 

* All bodies, (all, / say, without exception.)] Ver. 528. Omniat 
proraum Omnia, 

* Earthquakes.] Ver. 535. The opinions which he gives respect- 
ing earthquakes are those of Epicurus, as well as of Democritus 
and Anaxagoras. See Lamhinus and Faber. 

^ Nor are edifices less agitated, S^c.^ Ver. 550. Nee minus exsultant 
(Bdesj ubiquomque equitum vis, &c. The word (Bdes is not wanted, as 
tecta precedes. It was an intrusion of Wakefield's, from conjecture. 

B. VI. 551—568. LUCRETIUS. 267 

of chariots hurry along the street the iron rounds of the 

It happens, also, that when a large mass of earth ^ rolls 
down, from the effects of time, into a wide and deep pool of 
water, the water is agitated, and the earth, too, trembles with 
the concussion of the flood ; as a vessel of liquid cannot stand 
still upon the ground, unless the liquid, (rfter being shaken^ has 
ceased to sway with a rocking motion within it. 

Moreover, when wind, collected in the hollow places under 
the earth, bears strongly from one quarter, and, struggling 
with vast power, crowds into the deep caverns, the earth, to- 
wards the part where the force of the blast directs itself, 
inclines and gives way; and then the buildings which are 
erected upon the earth's surface,^ sloping and being driven 
from the perpendicular, lean in the same direction, and so 
much the more as they respectively rise higher into the air ; 
while the beams, being stretched, stand out, as ready to start 
from their places. And do men hesitate to believe that a 
time of ruin and destruction awaits the whole fabric of the 
world, when they see so vast a mass of the earth give way ? 
Whereas, even now, unless the winds were to remit their fury, 
no power could save all things,^ or could hinder them from 

Lambinus read, Nee minus exultant tibi cttrrua fortis equbm vis, &c. 
The manuscripts vary, and are unintelligible. Lachmann re-con- 
structs the line thus : Nee. minus exultant, et uhi lapi^ cunque via'i. In 
the next line, Ferratos utrinque rotarum succutit orbes, I have omitted 
the second word in the translation. 

' When a large mass of earth, ^c] Ver. 552. He signifies that 
earthquakes may take place from the fall of masses of rocky or 
other matter into bodies of water beneath the surface of the earth. 
^ Then the buildings which are erected upon the earth's surface, 
*c.] Ver. 561. 

Tum supra terram ^use sunt exstructa domorum, 
Ad coelumque magis quanto sunt edita qusque. 
In clinata minent in eandem, prodita, partem ; 
Protractaeque trabes impendent, ire paratse. 

Exstructa domorum, the same as strata viarum, prima virorumf &c. 
In clinata minent, says Wakefield, is for clinata imminent. Prodita, 
he adds, is for jnyrro data, or prqfecta, or vpoKsifieva, Comp. ver. 606. 
For minent Lachmann reads meant. 
•"* No power could save all things, ^c] Ver. 568. 

vis nulla refr<Bnet 
Res, neque ah exitio possit reprehendere euntes. 

i. e. vis nulla refraenet res ab exitio, neaue possit reprebex\Asx^ 
(res) euntes (ad exitium). Lambinua Teaa%, 

268 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 669-585. 

going to destruction ; but, because they relax and struggle 
by turns, and, as if collecting their force, return to the charge, 
and then retreat as if repulsed ; the earth, on this account, 
oftener threatens ruin than actually suffers it ; ^ for it inclines 
and starts back, as it were, only for a time, and then, making 
an effort with its whole weight recovers its station.* From 
this cause, accordingly, all our houses tremble and reel ; the 
highest more than the middling, the middling more than the 
lowest, the lowest scarcely at aU.' 

There is also this cause of great quaking of the earth to he 
mentioned. When wind, and any vast quantity of air, collected 
either without or within the earth, has suddenly thrown itself 
into hollow places under the ground, it there rages, at first,* 
with violent fury, among the vast caverns, and rolls and urges 
itself along ; but at length, when its force is roused and ex- 
cited, it bursts forth abroad, and, cleaving the deep soil, forms 
a huge yawning chasn^ as happened in Syrian Sidon,^ and 

non uUa refranet 
Bet, neque ab exitio poasit reprehendere euntem, 

i. e. non uUa res refrsenet (terrain) ab exitio, neque possit repre- 
hendere (terram) euntem (ad exitium). The latter seems prefer- 
able ; for the former draws the mind of the reader away from the 
earth, which is the immediate subject of the passage, to things in 
general. Wakefield justly observes, that Virgil probably had these 
lines in his thoughts, when he wrote, 

Ni faciat, maria, ac terras, coelumque profundum, 
Quippe ferant rapidi secum verrantque per auras. 

^n. i. 56, 

* The earth — oftener threatens ruin than actually suffers it.] 
Ver. 572. Sapiut hanc 6b rem minitatur terra ruincu Quam facit. 
Earthquakes, and other disorders on the earth, do hap])en; but 
not so frequently as circumstances seem to threaten. This seems 
to be the sense of the passage. To refer it to any general destruc- 
tion of the earth, when Lucretius no where hints that any has 
happened, seems to be absurd. Yet Good makes it. 

Earth oftener far is menaced than destroy 'd. 

' And then, making an effort with its to?u>le weight, recovers its 
station.] Ver. 574. Et recipit prolapsa suae in pondere aedes. " The 
order is, Et prolapsa in (i. e. Iv, cum, ^td) pondere, recipit suas se- 
des." Wakefield, 

* Scarcely at all.] Ver. 576. Ferhilum, " Paullum modo, fere 
nihil." Faber. 

* Rages, at first.] Ver. 581. Fremit ante. 

* Syrian Sidon.] Ver. 585. Syrid Sidone. This was the old read- 
ing, which, after Lambinus had altered it into Tyrid Sidone, Wake- 

B. VI. 586-608. LUCRETIUS. 269 

was seen at JRgium in the Peloponnesus ; ^ which cities, such 
an eruption of air, and an earthquake produced at the same 
time, overthrew and destroyed. Many other cities, also, by 
reason of violent earthquakes, have sunk down to the ground ; 
and many cities, with their inhabitants, have been over- 
whelmed in the sea.^ But if the force of the air, and violent 
fury of the wind, do not burst through the soil, they yet 
spread, like shuddering blasts, through the numerous open- 
ings under ground, and thus cause a tremour on the surface ; 
as cold, when it penetrates into our limbs, shakes them, and 
compels them to tremble and quiver against our will. Men, 
therefore, in cities, are appalled, on such occasions, with dou- 
ble terror ; for they dr^d the buildings above them ; and are 
afraid, at the sam^ time, lest the earth should suddenly break 
up^ the depths below, and lest, being disruptured and dis- 
ordered, it should open wide its jaws, and prepare to fill them 
with its own ruins. 

Though men, therefore, think that- the heavens and the 
earth will be imperishable, and are intrusted to eternal safety,* 
yet, at times, the present influence of danger causes in some 
degree the sensation of fear ; a fear lest the earth, suddenly 
withdrawn from beneath their feet, should sink down into a 
gulf; and lest the sum op things, utterly overthrown, should 
follow it, and only a confused wreck of the world remain. 

I must now proceed to give a reason why the sea knows 

field recalled, observing that Pliny^ N. H. xxxv. 51, has " terrft in 
Syrtfl, circa Sidonem, oppidum maritimum.*' "And," says Forbiger, 
" since geographers (as Strabo, xvi. p. 749, Cas. ; Plin. N. H. y. 
13 ; Pomp. Mela, i. 11, 1) comprise under the name of Syria, in 
its wider sense, all the lands between Cilicia, Arabia, Egypt, and 
the Tigp-is, and, consequently, Phcenice, why might not Lucretius 
also have called Sidon a Syrian city ? " Of this earthquake mention 
is made by Justin, xviii. 3 ; and by Strabo, i. p. 58. 

* At ^gium in the Peloponnesus.] Ver. 585. uEgi in Peloponneso. 
Mgium was a town of Achaia, near which stood Helice and Bura, 
which were destroyed by an earthquake. See Ovid. Met. xv. 293, 
ibique Heins. and Burm. ; also Pausanias, vii. 24 ; and Diod. Sic. 
XV. 48. 

* Have been overwhelmed in the sea.] Ver. 589. Per mare pesaum 
Subsedere. " Pessum, deorsum, et quasi sub pedes." Lambinus. 

^ Lest the earth should suddenly break up.] Ver. 598. Terrai ne 
dissolvat natura. " Terrai natura /br Terra ipsa." Creech, 

* Intrusted to eternal safety.] Ver. 602. ^Etemce mandata aaluH, 

270 LUCRETIUS. b.\i. 609—633. 

no augmentation.^ In the first place, men wonder that nature 
does not necessarily enlarge the oc^an, into which there is so 
great a conflux of waters, and into which the rivers run from 
all quarters. But add to the rivers, if you please, the wan- 
dering showers and flying storms, which scatter and dischai'ge 
themselves over all the sea and the earth ; add, if you please, 
the sources of the rivers ; yet all these, compared with the 
vastness of the sea, are but as one drop of water for the aug- 
mentation of the whole. It is no wonder, therefore, that the 
mighty ocean is not increased. 

Besides, the sun, by the influence of his heat, draws a large 
portion away from t^. For we observe how the sun dries, 
with his burning rays, garments that are drenched with mois- 
ture. But the ocean, we see, is large, and widely extended 
beneath his beams; and although, therefore, the sun may ex- 
hale but a small portion of moisture from each spot on the 
sea, it will yet deduct a large quantity from its waters through- 
out so great an extent of surface. 

Moreover the winds, — the winds, / say, which sweep the 
ocean, — may carry off a considerable portion of its liquid ; for 
we often see the roads, after being drenched with rain, dried 
in a single night, and a crust of mud, which before was soft, 
hardened and congealed upon them. 

The clouds, too, I have before shown, take up a large quan^ 
tity of moisture, which is attracted by them from the vast 
surface of the ocean ; and which they sprinkle, in various 
parts, over the whole round of the earth, at times when rain 
falls on the ground, and when he winds drive the clouds 
athwart the sky. 

Lastly, since the earth is of a porous consistence, and is in 
contact with the sea, encompassing the shores of the deep on 

* Why the sea knows no augmentation.] Ver. 608. Cur augmen 
nesciat cequor. " To the question, why the sea, into which all rivers 
run, is not increased, Lucretius answers, 1. That the sea is so vast, 
that all the water of the rivers, together with all the rain that falls 
from the clouds, is but as a drop'to the whole. 2. That the sun ex- 
hales much water from it. 3. That the winds carry away much. 
4. That the clouds take away a portion. 5. That as the rivers run 
into the sea, so they pass out of the sea, by openings in the earth 
from the bed of the ocean, to their own sources ; producing a cir- 
culation of water which makes it not at all wonderful that there is 
no increase in the sea." Creech. 

B. VI. 633-652. LUCRETIUS. 271 

all sides, the water, as it flows from the earth into the sea, 
must likewise pass, reciprocally^ from the salt sea into the 
earth ; for the salt is strained off, and the pure substance of 
the water flows back into the ground, and collects all together 
at the sources of rivers; from whence it returns, in fresh 
streams, over the earth, wherever a passage, once cut, has 
conveyed the flood in its liquid course.^ 

I shall now explain what is the cause that flres at times 
burst forth, with such tempestuous fury, from the jaws of 
Mount -^tna.2 For it was not from any divine origin of 
calamity,^ that a storm of fire, rising and raging over the 
fields of the Sicilians, attracted to itself the attention of the 
neighbouring nations, when, observing all the regions of 
heaven covered with smoke, and gleaming with fiames^ they 
felt their breasts filled with awful anxiety, dreading what new 
catastrophe nature might design to produce. 

In contemplating such subjects flw these, you must stretch 
your view widely and deeply, and look far abroad in all di- 
rections, that you may remind yourself that the sum of things 
is vast, and reflect how very small, how infinitely small a part* 

* Has conveyed the flood in its liquid course.] Ver. 639. Qua 
via secta semel liquidopede detulit nudas. See ver. 270. 

* Fires— burst forth from the jaws of Mount iEtna.] Ver. 640. 

*^ He now proceeds to treat of other remarkable phsenomena, which 
might, in the opinion of some, support the notion of the world beiiig 
governed by the providence of the gods. And first, he speaks of the 
fire of jEtna, at which, though it lays waste a large portion of Sicily, 
we ought not inconsiderately to wonder, as bemg beyond the 
powers of natiu'e. Some may think it supernatural, because it is 
vast, but they think it vast, only because they have not seen a 
greater ; nor ought we to wonder at the vastness of any thing, when 
we compare it with the immensity of the universe ; which would 
supply atoms for a conflagration that would far exceed those of 
^tna. Eruptions of this kind are like diseases in the human frame ; 
and as the seeds of disease may come into the human body from the 
world in which we live, so they may come into the world from the 
universe ; for if you make a comparison, you may say that as man 
is to this world J so is this world to the universe." From Creech. 

* From any divine origin of calamity.] Ver. 642. Neque enim did 
de clade coorta, S^c, Did de clade is the conjecture of Faber, which 
Havercamp and Forbiger adopted. Wakefield reads, from a con- 
jecture of Isaac Vossius, mediocri clade ; and Lachmann follows him. 
I certainly prefer di&, 

* How infinitely small a ];)art.] Ver. 652. Qudm multesima. Lam- 
binus compares the expression multesima pars with the Greek vo\- 

272 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 653-681. 

of the whole universe, is this one heaven ; not even so con- 
siderable a part as one man is of the whole earth. This point 
if you fully consider, and fully understand, when it is fairly 
presented to your mind^ you may forbear to wonder at many 
things which now excite your admiration. 

For, in respect to our own bodies, which of us is surprised 
if any of his neighbours has contracted a fever, that spreads 
through his frame with a burning heat, or has felt any other 
painful disease in his limbs ? Since the foot often swells on a 
sudden; a sharp pang frequently seizes the teeth, or darts 
through the eyes ; erysipelas arises, and, creeping through the 
frame, bums whatever part it has attacked, and spreads itself 
over the limbs. Nor is it strange that such maladies should 
occur; for there are atoms ready to produce many effects ; 
and this «arth and air contain seeds enough of noxious dis- 
ease, from which an abundance of infinite disorder may have 
its growth. Thus, too, t^e must suppose that, as to our own 
bodies, so to the whole heaven and earth, are plentifully sup- 
plied all kinds of atoms from the immensity of matter, by /Ac 
effects o/* which the earth, being suddenly moved, may quake 
unth agitation, while a rapid hurricane may rush over sea and 
land, the fire of -ffitna may swell forth, and the heaven be in 
a blaze ; for even this happens, even the celestial regions glow 
with heat. Thtis, too, storms of rain arise with a greater 
combination-of-force, when particles of moisture have in like 
manner chanced to unite themselves. 

" But the raging fire ofMtna^^ you will say, " is extraordi- 
narily great." Doubtless, / answer; and a river, which has 
been seen by any person, appears extraordinarily great to Tiim 
who has never before seen a greater ; and a man or a tree 
possibly appears large to the eyes of some animals; and every 
one imagines every thing of every sort, which is the greatest 
that he has seen, to be extremely large ; although all things 
that he beholds, together with the heaven and the earth and 
the ocean, are a^ nothing in comparison with the entire, sum 


I will now, however, explain by what causes the fire of 

Xoorbv fispog, which he observes that Strabo (lib. i. p. 26, ed. Cas.) 
uses in the sense of perexigtia tantum pars. 

* Entire sum of the entire whole.] Ver. 680. Summam sum- 
mat totius omnem. 

B. VI. 682—709. LUCRETIUS. 273 

^tna, when suddenly excited, bursts forth from its vast fur- 
naces. In the first place, the fabric of the mountain is hollow 
underneath, supported, for the most part, by arches of flint- 
stone. In all the caverns, moreover, is wind and air, for air, 
when it is moved by any agitating impulse^ becomes wind. 
When this air, then, has grown hot, and has heated all the 
rocks and earth round about, as far as it reaches, and elicited 
from them fire raging with violent flames, it mounts up, and 
thus expels the blaze straight firom the jaws of the mountain, 
high into the air, and spreads it far abroad, and scatters the 
embers to a great distance, and rolls forth smoke heavy with 
thick darkness, while it darts out, at the same time, rocks of 
a wonderful weight. You cannot, therefore, doubt, but that 
it is the violent force of air which prodtices these effects. 

Besides, the sea, for a considerable distance, alternately 
breaks its waves, and again retracts its tide, at the base of 
that mountain. From this sea caverns extend under ground 
as far as the ascending jaws of the mountain; by these 
caverns you must admit (for fact absolutely compels you) 
that blasts of wind enter ^ and penetrate from the open sea, and 
thus exalt the flame, and cast up rocks, and raise clouds of 
sand. For on the summit of the mountain are craters, as the 
Greek call them, but which we call jaws and mouths. 

There are some phaenomena, too, for which it is not suf- 
ficient to assign merely one cause, but it is requisite to enumerate 
many : of which, however, one only can be the true cause. 
As if, for example, you should see the dead body of a man 
lying on the ground at a distance, you naturally run over all 
the probable causes of his death,^ that the one cause of it may 
be sure to be mentioned. For neither, perhaps, can you prove 

» Blasts of wind enter.] Ver. 698. 

hac ire, fatendum est, 
£t penetrare mari, penitus res cogit, aperto, 
Atque efilare foras. 

I hsLV-e supplied " blasts of wind *' in accordance with the notion of 
Good. Creech supposed that not wind, but water, was meant, and he 
"gives," says Good, "the general interpretation of the editors;" 
hut, he adds, " the idea of fire retreating before a body of water,^ and 
being forced upwards in a perpendicular line to an immense height, 
instead of intermingling with the water, is absolute nonsense." 
* You naturally run over all the probable causes of his death, 4f^.] 

274 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 710-723. 

that he died by the sword, nor of the effects of cold, nor by 
disease, nor by poison ; but we know that it is something of 
this destructive nature that has happened to him. This same 
observation we may make in respect to many other things. 

The Nile, the river of all Egypt,* is the only one of all 
streams in the world that swells towards summer, and inun- 
dates the fields. This river waters Egypt, from time to time, 
during the middle of the hot season ; and this happens, possi- 
bly,^ because the north winds, which are said to be Etesian 
winds y^ prevail at that time in the summer over against the 
mouth of the river, and, blowing up the stream, retard it ; and 
thtis, forcing the flood up the channel, fill it, and compel the 
waters to stagnate. For without doubt these breezes, which 
come from the cold stars of the north pole, advance against 
the stream. The river flows from the warm countries, taking 
its rise from the extreme south, and from the regions of noon- 

Ver. 707. Fit tU omnes dicere catisas conveniat leti, dicatur vt iUius 
una. " Enumerare oportet omnes causas.** Creech, 

* The Nile, the river of all Egypt.] Ver. 713. " He now speaks 
of the increase of the Nile in the summer ; a matter concerning 
which there was much inquiry among the ancients. Herodotus 
notices and refutes their opinions ; of which, the first attributed the 
effect to the Etesian winds ; the second, to the ocean ; the third, to 
the melting of snow near the upper portion of^he stream ; and then 
proposes his own as a fourth, imputing the swell of the river to the 
change of position in the sun, which, in winter, passing over Libya, 
exhales a great quantity of water from the Nile ; but, at the ap- 
proach of summer, retreating to the north, has tl^ same effect on 
the rivers of Greece ; so that, according to Herodotus, the Nile 
only seems to increase in summer, when, in reality, it decreases in 
winter. This opinion is opposed by Diod. Sic. lib. i. See also Plin. 
N. H. V. 9; Pomp. Mel. i. 9; and Solin. c. 45." Lambinus. It is 
now pretty generally considered that the inundation arises chiefly 
from the periodical rains, which fall in the tropical regions from 
June to September ; but that it is partialljr promoted, at the same 
time, by the Etesian or annual winds, which blow violently from 
the north-east, and diminish the discharge of water from the river 
into the sea. 

* And this happens j possibly. §*c.] Ver. 716. Aut quia sunt cestate 
aquilones, Sgc, The reader of tne Latin will see that though this aut 
signifies either, there is no conjunction following it, to allow it to be so 
given in the English translation. I have therefore made a slight 

* Said to be Etesian winds."] Ver. 717. EtesicB esseferuntur. See v. 741. 

B. VI. 724—738. LUCRETIUS. 275 

day,^ amidst the races of mankind blackened with scorching 

It is possible, also, that a great collection of sand ^ (at times 
when the sea, excited by the wind, drives the sand within the 
bed of the river) may cause obstruction* at the mouth of the 
stream to the waters coming towards it. By this means it 
may happen that the outlet of the river mat/ be less free, and 
that the current of the water, likewise, may bo rendered less 

It is also possible, perhaps, that rain may fall more abund- 
antly near its source, at the very time when the Etesian winds 
from the north drive all the clouds into those parts. For 
when the clouds, impelled towards the regions of the south,* 
have collected there in a body, they are at last pressed and 
driven against the lofty mountains, and compelled by the force 
of the wind to discharge their waters. 

Perhaps, too, it may have its increase entirely from the 
high hills of the Ethiopians, at the time when the sun, shining 
on all parts of them^ forces the white snow, with his dissolving 
rays, to descend in a flood upon the plains. 

* From the regions of noon-day.] Ver. 724. MediA oft regione diet. 
That is, ab regione medii diei^ or ab regione meridiei* See ver. 733. 

2 Races of mankind blackened with scorching heat.] Ver. 723. 
Inter nigra virUm percocto aacla calore. This is according to Wake- 
field. It is strange that any man in his senses should have fixed 
such a reading in his text. Percoctus means parched, scorched, but 
what is percoctus cahr, scorched heat? Lambinus read percoctaque 
8<Bcla colore, which is intelligible j and Lachmann gives percocto sacla 
colore, which is (equally intelligible, and approaches nearer to the 
manuscripts. I have rendered it scorching heat, to put some sense into 
the line. The same words occur again in ver. 1108. Sil. Italicus, 
xviii. 633, has incocti corpora Mauri, 

* Collection of sand.] Ver. 725. He now suggests another cause, 
which is also noticed by Pomponius Mela, i. 9. 

* Cause obstruction, ^c] Ver. 726. Fossit — Fluctibus adversis oppi- 
lare ostia contra, ** Oppilare,*' says Lambinus, '^ is to obstruct l^ke a 
number of pillars or columns ranged in opposition.'* The construc- 
tion is, oppilare, to offer obstruction, fluctibus adversis, to the adverse 
waters of the river, (i. e. to the waters of the river coming down 
against the sand,) con^a ostia, opposite the mouth. Scheller, in his 
Lexicon, referring to this passage, cites merely "oppilare ostia," 
which mi^ht lead the reader to suppose that oppilare governs ostia; 
but Lambinus rightly observes that oppilare is here used absolutely. 

* Impelled towards the regions of the south.] Ver. 783. Ad mediam 
regionem ejecta diet. See ver. 724. 

T % 

276 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 739—758. 

Give me now your attention, and I will show with what 
nature and qualities the regions and lakes, which ate called 
Avernian,^ are distinguished. 

In the first place, as to the circumstance that they are 
named Avemian, that name has been given them from their 
peculiar property, inasmuch as they are destructive to all 
kiTids of birds ; and because, when an^ of the feathered tribe 
have, in their flight, come over against those parts,^ forgetful 
of their steerage, they relax the sails of their pinions, and, 
sinking down with powerless neck, fall headlong on the ground, 
if, perchance, the nature of the parts beneath allow them to fall 
thus, or into the water, if a lake of Avemus happen to be 
stretched under them. Such a spot is near Cumae, where the 
hills smoke from being charged with vivid sulphur, and 
abounding with hot springs. 

There is also a place within the walls of Athens, on the 
very summit of the hill, close by the temple of bountiful 
Tritonian Pallas, to which the hoarse crows never direct their 
flight ; not even when the altars smoke with offerings. So 
carefully do they avoid, not the violent wrath of Pallas on 
account of watchfulness,^ as the poets of the Greeks have 
sung, but the fumes of the sulphur ; for the nature of the 
place produces this effect of itself. 

There is also reported to be a place in Syria, plainly to be 
seen,* to which as soon as four-footed animals have directed 

* Regions and lakes which are called Avernian.] Ver. 739. Aver- 
nor—loca, Loca Avema, i. e. dopva^ or wiihmU birds, as being so 
noxious to birds that they cannot live in the air above them. It is 
to be observed that Lucretius is not speaking of one particular Aver- 
nus, but of such places in general. He specifies one near Cumae in 
Italy; one at Athens; and one in Syria. All his remarks have 
reference to these places as far as ver. 840. 

' Have — come over aeainst those parts.] Ver. 743. E regione ea 
qubd loca quom venere. " i. e. ciim h regione (ad) ea loca venere." 

* Not the violent wrath of Pallas on account of watchfulness.] 
Ver. 754. Non iraa Palladia a,crea Pervigilt cattsd. The crow is callea 
inviaa Minerva, (Ov. Am. ii. 6, 35,) because, as the fable tells, having 
watched^ three damsels, (Pandrosos, Herse, and Aglauros, to whom 
she had intrusted Ericthonius, with injunctions not to open the chest 
in which he was concealed,) she informed the goddess that they 
had disobeyed her orders. Why Minerva was so much offended at 
this does not appear ; but the crow, it seems, ever afterwards 
shunned her and her temples. See Ov. Met. ii. 542, seg, 

* Plainly to he seen.] Ver. 757. Videri, *' "QtrreUnreair Lambinus, 

B. VI. 759—786. LUCRETIUS. 277 

their steps, the very nature of it causes them to fall heavily 
on the earth, as if they were suddenly made a sacrifice to the 
infernal deities. 

But all these things are effected by the c^eration of nature ; 
and the origin of them, and from what causes they arise, is 
apparent. So that the gate of Tartarus must not be thought 
to be situate in these regions, nor, moreover,^ must we imagine 
that the infernal deities can possibly draw souls down from 
hence into the coasts of Acheron, as swift stags,^ with the 
breath of their nostrils, are often supposed to draw the crawl- 
ing tribes of serpents from their hiding-places. But observe, 
I pray you, how far aU this is at variance with just reasoning ; 
for I now proceed to give you a fuU explanation concerning 
(his very subject. 

In the first place, I assert this, (which I have also fre- 
quently asserted before,^) that there are in the earth all kinds 
of forms of the atoms of things ; of which there are many that 
are wholesome for food, and many that may bring on disease 
and hasten death. We have also previously shown ^ that for 
different animals, with regard to the sustenance of life, some 
substances are better adapted than others, on accoumt of their 
dissimilar natures, and opposite constitution one to the other, 
and the primary figures of their seminal-particles. Many 
noxious atoms pass through the ears ; many that are offensive 
and harsh to the sense penetrate through the nostrils ; nor 
are there few only wMch are to be avoided by the touch, or 
shunned by the sight, or which are bitter to the taste. 

You may notice, too, how many things are of a violently 
pernicious influence on mankind, both disagreeable and deadly. 
To certain trees, we may first observe, has been assigned a 
poisonous shade,^ so that they often cause pains in the head, if 
any one lies stretched on the grass beneath them. 

* Moreover.] Ver. 764. Pott, i. e. deinde^ as Wakefield, whose 
reading it is, interprets. Possibly, in the next line, answers to forte 
in the original. 

'As swift stags, Sge.^ Ver. 766. In reference to this notion see 
Pliny, N. H. ii. 53; Oppian, Cyneg. ii. 288: JEli&n, de Anim. ii. 9. 

' Which I have also frequently asserted before.] Ver. 770. See 
ii. 333. 

* Previously shown.] Ver. 775. See iv. 634; v. 896. 

* Poisonous shade.] Ver. 784. Gravis umbra. Pliny attributes 
this property to the walnut and the box-tree. H. N. xvii. 12, and 

278 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 787—800. 

There is likewise on the high mountains of Helicon a tree,^ 
which has been known to kill a man by the malignant odour 
of its blossom. All these destructive substances, you will un-* 
derstand, spring from the ground, because the earth contains 
many seeds of many things mingled in many ways, and dis- 
tributes iheni separately to different productions. 

And when a night taper, just extinguished,^ strikes a per- 
son^s nostrils with a pungent odour, it takes away his senses, 
so that he falls down on the very spot ; as when that disease 
takes effect^ which is accustomed to stretch men at fuU length. 

And a woman, overcome with^^Ae str6ng scent of castor,* if 
she has smelt it at the time at which she discharges her 
menses, falls backward, and her elegant work drops from her 
tender hands. 

And many other things relax the organs, causing them to 
languish throughout the body, and disturb the soul in its seat 

Besides, if, toith a stomach too fuU, you even stay long in a 
warm bath, or are drenched in a laver of tepid water,^ how 

xvi. 10. Some such quality seems to have been thought to belong 
to the shade of the juniper ; for Virgil says, Juniperi gravis umbra : 
Eel. X. 76. The Manchmeel tree of the West Indies, and the Upas 
of Java, were then unknown to Europeans. 

* On the high mountains of Helicon a tree.] Ver. 787. " "What 
tree this is, I shall leave for others to divine. Some suppose it to 
be the yew ; but why should he send us to Helicon for a yew, which 
is to be found any where in Italy? And to say that the yew will 
kill with the odour of its blossom is not true." Faber, 

* A night taper, just extinguished.] Ver. 792. I know not who 
has seen an example of this assertion. Good quotes, from Smellie's 
Philosophy of History, vol. i., the following instance of a different 
sensation from the same odour. " I knew a gentleman who was in 
the daily habit of lighting and putting out candles, that he might 
enjoy the pleasure of their smell." "The effluvia of musk," says 
Busby, " as also of cheese, perhaps, an^ other esculents, will power- 
fully affect females, especially when they are under the circum- 
stances alluded to by the poet." 

' As when that disease takes effect, 8^0."] Ver. 794. Ut pronos qui 
morbus mittere suevit. " You may reasonably interpret it the morbus 
comitialiSy or falling sickness." Creech. 

* Strong scent of castor.] Ver. 795. Castoreoque gravi, " Casto- 
reumy a liquid matter enclosed in bags or purses, near the anus of 
the castor, falsely taken for his testicles." Chambers* s Diet. 

* Warm bath — ^laver of tepid water.] Ver. 800. The one refers 
to the public baths, the other to bathing at home. 

B. VI. 801—810. LUCRETIUS. 279 

easily may it often happen that you may fall diOWTi fainting in 
the middle of it! 

And how easily does the oppressive vapour and scent of 
charcoal find an entrance into the brain, unless we have first 
taken a drattght of water !^ But when it has penetrated ^ 
through aU the well- warmed apartments of a house, the odour' 
of wine then falls like a deadly blow upon the nerves. 

Do you not observe also that sulphur is produced in the 
earth itself, and that bitumen, with its ofiensive smell, forms 
concretions in it ? When, moreover, men seek for veins of 
silver and gold, searching the hidden depths of the earth with 

* Unless we have first taken a draught of water.] Ver. 804. NiH 
aquam pracepimtis antd. Ante, first, i. e. before the odour of the 
charcoal can penetrate into the brain." Lambimu, 

* But when it has penetrated, §;c.] Ver. 805, 806. These verses 
and the two preceding, stand thus in Forbiger and Eichstadt : 

Carbonumque gravis vis atque odor insinuatur 
Qu^m facile in cerebrum, nisi aquam praecepimus ant^. 
At cum membra domus percepit fervida, nervis 
Turn fit odor vini plagse mactabiHs instar. 

(In Wakefield's edition the word At begins a new paragraph.) It is 
therefore fair to suppose that Forbiger and Eichstaat referred percepit 
to carbonum odor; and I have translated the passage accordingly. 
Wakefield evidently referred it to odor vini; quum odor vini per- 
cepit membra domus, turn fit (idem odor) plagse mactabilis instar. 
And thus his follower Good renders it : 

While the foul gas, that from fermenting must 
Springs, like a blow deep stuns us with its force. 

Good had doubtless referred to Wakefield's note, where a passage 
from Gronovius (Obs. iii. 5.) is quoted, who would read muatum in- 
stead of nervis. As for Lambinus and nis party, they read. 

At ci!tm membra hominis percepit fervida febris, 
Tum fit odor vini plagse mactabilis instar ; 

which Creech rendered by the audacious couplet. 

To those whom fevers bum, the piercing smell 
Of vigorous wine is grievous, death and hell. 

Lachmann reads. 

At cum membra domiis percepit fervidior via 
Tum fit odor viri plagee mactabilis instar. 

Viri, from virus, poison, referring to the cbarcoaL This may be 

280 LUCRETIUS. B. Ti. 811—829. 

iron instruments^ bow strong an odour does the mine^ exhale 
from beneath ! 

Or have you not learned how much poison is in the earth 
for gold mines to exhale?^ What sort of looks and com- 
plexions do they produce in the men who work in them f Do 
you not remark, or hear from others, in how short a time 
they are wont to waste away, and how length of life is neces- 
sarily withheld from those whom superior power confines in 
such an employment ? The earth, evidently, steams forth all 
these vapours, and breathes them out into the regions of the 
air, which are open and ready to receive them. 

So, likewise, the regions of Avernus must send up from 
beneath a vapour destructive to birds; a vapour which 
ascends from the earth into the air, in such abundance as to 
poison the body of the atmosphere to a certain extent. So 
that, as soon as a bird has been borne thither on its wings, it 
is there stopped, being so violently affected by the invisible 
poison, that it drops down over against the spot where the 
exhalation raises itself. And when the bird has fallen there,^ 
this same force of the exhalation takes away the remains of 
life from all its members. For at first it only excites, as it 
were, a certain giddiness in the birds, but afterwards, when 
they have fallen from on high on the very sources of the 

* Mine.] Ver. 811. Scaptensvla, It is a word formed from vKaic- 
rbg, tj, bv, (from aKaivTiiVy to dig y) and vXjy, matter^ signifying material 
for digging, or material dug up, ■ Lambinus thinks that it snoidd be 
written without the n, and he seems to have reason on his side. 
Festus says that it was the name of a place in Macedonia, remark- 
able for its mines ; and Faber observes that it hence became a ge- 
neral name for a mine. 

* Or have you not learned how much poison is in the earth for gold 
mines to exhale?] Ver. 812. Quidve mali fit, xU exhalent aurata me- 
tullat " Meaning,** says Wakefield, " what poisonous matter that 
is, from which gold mines emit such exhalations ? " 

* And when the bird has fallen there, ^r^.] Ver. 825. 

Qu6 ciim corruit haec eadem vis illius aestiis, 
Reliquias vitse membris ex omnibus aufert. 

Thus are the lines pointed in Forbiger and Wakefield ; but I con- 
sider, with Creech, that there ought to be a point after corruity which 
is to be referred, not to the vapour, but to the bird. When the bird 
has fallen down, the vapour deprives it of life. It is observable 
that Lucretius here uses metue at the end of three verses out of 
four : in the first two places it signifies the Avernian vapour ; in 
the third, giddiness in the birds. Comp. iv. 1020. 

B. VI. 830— 865. LUCRETIUa 281 

poison, it comes to pass that they must there yield up even 
their life, because a vast quantity of the ^iBonoua-exhiikUwn 
surrounds them. 

It happens also, at times, that this vapour and exhalation 
of Avemus disperses the air which intervenes between the 
birds and the earth, so that that portion of the atmosphere is 
left, from this cause, almost empty. And when the birds, in 
their flight, have come over against this part, the effort of their 
wings immediately halts and grows ineffectual, and every 
struggle of their pinions, on either side, is unsupported. 
Thus, when they are unable to flap their wings, or to rest 
upon themy nature you will understand, compels them to de- 
scend to the earth by their ovm weight, and accordingly, sink- 
ing down through the part which is almost a vacuum, they 
disperse abroad their lives through every pore of the body. 

Water in wells, ^ moreover, grows cooler in summer, and 
for this reason, that the earth is then rarified by the heat, and 
emits rapidly into the air any atoms of warmth which it may 
happen to contain. The more, accordingly, the earth is ex- 
hausted of its heat, the cooler, also, does the water become 
which is concealed under-ground. And on the contrary, too, 
when the earth is contracted, and condensed, and congealed, 
as it were, with cold, it happens that, as it contracts, it dis- 
charges into the wells whatever heat it contains. 

Near the temple of Jupiter Ammon,^ there is said to he 
a fountain which is cold in the day and warm in the night. 
At the peculiarity of this fountain men greatly wonder, and 
imagine that the earth is heated, in its tium,^ by the power of 
the SMnfrom beneath, during the time when night has covered 
the earth with its awful darkness ; a supposition which is too 
much opposed to just reasoning. For since the sun, striking 
on the uncovered body of water at noon-day, when the rays 

* Water in wells.] Ver. 841. Having concluded his remarks on 
the Avemian regions, he proceeds to account, from natural causes, 
for other phsenomena. 

* Near the temple of Jupiter Ammon, ^r^''] Ver. 849. This foun- 
tain is described by Pliny, H. N. ii. 108 ; romp. Mela, i. 8 ; and 
Quintus Curtius, iv. 7. iteference is also made to it by Ovid. Met. 
XV. 309, and by Silius Italicus. ill. 669. Its warmth was doubtless 
supplied by subterranean Are, out for its alternations of heat and 
cold no cause has been assigned. 

» In its turn.] Ver. 862. Pariim. " Vicissim." WahtfiM. 

282 LUCRETIUS. b. vi. 856-886. 

from above are possessed of such violent heat, cannot make 
it warm even on the surface, how can this same sun act upon 
the water, and infuse into it his quickening heat, from 
beneath the earth, which is of so dense and solid a consist- 
ence? Especially when he can scarcely make his warmth, 
by means of his glowing rays, penetrate through the walls 
of houses. ^ 

What, then, is the cause ? It is evidently this: that certain 
ground, less dense than the rest of the ground, encircles this 
fountain ; and that there are many atoms of heat near the 
body of water. Hence, when night covers the earth with its 
dewy shade, the ground underneath immediately becomes 
cold and contracts. By this process it happens that the soil, 
as if it were compressed with the hand, discharges into the 
fountain whatever atoms of heat it contains, which make the 
water warm to the touch, ^ as well as the steam of it. After- 
wards, when the sun, with his morning rays, has relaxed and 
rarefied the earth, (as his active heat mingles with it,) the 
atoms of heat return again into their former places, and all 
the warmth of the water passes into the ground* From this 
cause the fountain becomes cold in the day-time. 

Besides, the water is acted upon by the rays of the siin as 
the day comes on,^ and is rarefied by the tremulous heat of 
his beams. It accordingly happens, that whatever particles of 
heat it contains, it disperses ; as water oflen dispels the cold 
which it contains, and dissolves its ice, and relaxes its fetters. 

There is also a cold spring at Dodona,^ over which when 
tow is placed, it frequently, catching fire at once, throws out 
flame ; and in like manner a torch, lighted at its waters, casts 
a radiance, wherever it swims or is impelled by the winds over 
the surface; the cause evidently being, that there are in the 
water many atoms of heat ; and particles of warmth must also 
arise from the earth itself over all the bottom of the fountain, 

* Make the water warm to the touch.] Ver. 869. Calidum faciunt 
laticis tactMtn, Make the touch of the water warm. 

* As the day comes on.] Ver. 876. In Ittcem. Towards day. Comp. 
in (Bstatem^ towards summer, ver. 713. 

* Cold spring at Dodona,] Ver. 880. " Having shown that there 
is nothing divine in the fountain of Jupiter Ammon, he proceeds to 
make a similar assertion with regard to the fountain of Jupiter Do- 
donaeus." Creech. I have added " at Dodona " in the text, where 
Pliny, H. N. ii. 103, describes the fountain as being situate. 

B. VI. 887— 909. LUCRETIUS. 283 

and be exhaled and pass forth, at the same time, into the air ; 
yet these particles must not he so vivid as that the spring can 
be rendered hot hy them. 

Besides, some powerful infiuence excites those atoms qfheat, 
when dispersed abroad, to burst suddenly upwards through 
the water, and to combine on the surface; as, in the sea around 
Arados,^ there is a spring of fresh water which bubbles up 
through ity and puts aside the salt waves around it. And in 
many other places the sea affords a seasonable relief to thirsty 
mariners, inasmuch as it casts up fresh water among the salt. 
Thus, too, those atoms of heat may burst up through that foun- 
tain of which we have spoken, and diffuse themselves abroad 
among the tow ; which atoms, when they combine together, 
or adhere to the substance of the tow or torch, easily take 
fire at once ; because tow and torches contain likewise many 
particles of heat, which may unite with those in the water to 
produce flame. 

Do you not observe, also, that when you hold the wick of 
a lamp^ recently extinguished, to a night taper, it takes fire 
before it touches the flame ? And have you not noticed a torch 
caich fire in like manner? Many other substances, :too, 
affected by the mere heat, begin to bum at a distance /rom a 
fire, before its flame closely involves them,^ Such, therefore, 
we must conceive to be the case with respect to that fountain. 

In the next place, I shall proceed to show by what law of 
nature it happens that the stone, which the Greeks call a 
magnet,* from the name of the region that produced it, (for 

^ In the sea around Arados.] Ver. 891. Indu mart Aradio, Arados 
was a town, built on an island of the same name, on the coast of 

2 Wick of a lamp,"] Ver. 901. Linum, There is no doubt that this 
is the meaning of tne word linum in this passage. 

" When, just extinct, the taper we apply 
To one full blazing." Good, 

' Closely involves themA Ver. 905. Imbuat, 

* Magnet] Ver. 908. Masnesia was a region in Lydia, of which 
the inhabitants were called Magnetes ; and from them, according to 
Lucretius and others, the magnet was named. Others say it Had 
its name from Maenes, a young man, who, walking over some stones* 
found himself held fast by the iron attached to his shoes, and thus 
first discovered the power of the magnet. See Plin. H. N. v. 29, 
xxxvi. 16. This dissertation on the magnet continues to ver* 1089. 

284 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 910—941. 

it was first found in the country of the Magnetes,) has the 
power to attract iron. 

At this stone men look with astonishment, for it often ex- 
hibits a chain of little rings suspended from it. Since you 
may at times see five or more, hanging in a straight line, 
oscillate in a gentle breeze, whilst one depends from another, 
attached to it underneath; and whilst they feel from each 
other the influence and attraction of the stone ; so thoroughly 
does its force pervade the whole succession of rings. 

In matters of this kind, you must establish many points be- 
fore you can state the principle of the thing itself; and I 
must, accordingly approach the subject by a long circuit of 
introductory remarks; on which account I entreat your atten- 
tive ear sjid favourable regard. 

In the first place, from all bodies,^ whatsoever we behold, 
there must necessarily flow, and be emitted and dispersed, 
certain substances which strike the eye and excite vision ; 
odours, too, arc perpetually flying off fi^m some bodies ; as 
cold is also diffused from rivers, heat from the sun, spray 
from the billows of the ocean, which consumes walls near 
the shore; nor do various voices cease to flit through 
the air ; moreover the moisture, so- to speak, of a salt taste 
comes often into the mouth when we are walking near the 
sea ; and when we look at diluted wormwood being mixed, a 
bitterness affects our palate. So evident is it that a certain 
substance is carried off perpetually from all bodies, and is dis- 
persed in all parts round about ; nor is there any delay or 
rest allowed to the efflux ; since we constantly perceive it 
with our senses, and may see all objects at all times, and 
smell them, and hear them sound. 

Here I shall observe again ^ that which is set forth in the 
first part of mt/ poem, namely, of how porous a consistence 
bodies are. For though to understand this is of importance 
to many subjects, it is especially necessary to establish, with 
regard to the very matter immediately under our notice, 
(concerning which I am proceeding to speak,) that there is 

* In the first place, from all bodies, 4r^.] Ver. 922. Fifteen verses 
are here repeated from iv. 217. 

* Here I shall observe again.] Ver. 937. Repetam commemorare. 
See i. 266. 

B. VI. 942—967. LUCRETIUS. 285 

nothing in the whole of things before us * but body intermingled 
with vacuity. 

It is apparent, first of all, that in caverns ^ the overhanging 
rocks exude moisture, and distil running drops. From the 
whole of our own bodies, also, perspiration trickles; our 
beard sprmgs forth from them, and h^rs arise over all our 
limbs and members ; the food which we taJke is distributed 
through all our veins, and swells and nourishes the extreme 
parts of the body, and even the very nails ; we feel cold, too, 
and vivid heat, penetrate through brass ; we feel them like- 
wise pass through gold and silver, when we are holding fuU 
cups.^ Moreover voices fly through the stone walls of houses ; 
odours, and cold, pervade them ; as well as the heat of fire, 
which has power to penetrate even the substance of iron, as 
is felt where the corslet confines the circuit of the neck.* The 
infection of disease likewise penetrates waUsy as it enters into 
houses from without. Philosophers too, with reason, send 
far back again ^ into the depths of heaven and earth, the 

* Before us.] Ver. 942. In promtu, ** Nihil in rerum naturft.'* 
Creech, ■ 

^ In caverns, S^c.l Ver. 943. His design, in these observations, is 
to show that in all bodies, however apparently solid, more or less of 
vacuity is intermingled ; and that into the vacua, or empty spaces, 
the atoms of other substances may enter. Our bodies contain vacua, 
or are porous, for out of them perspiration trickles, and through 
them are distributed particles of food ; metals and walls are porous, 
for they admit atoms of heat and cold, of voices and 'sounds. 
The heavens, and the earth in general, are of a similar consistence, 
for they can emit from their substance, whilst it remains apparently 
undiminished, atoms to produce a tempest ; and receive them back 
into themselves as the tempest subsides. 

» Holding full cups.] Ver. 951. See i. 495, 496. 

* Corslet confines the circuit of the neck.] Ver. 954. 

Ignis ; qui ferri quoque vim penetrare suevit 
Denique, qu^ circum colli lorica coercet. 

This is Wakefield's reading. Lambinus read, Undique qua circum 
corpus lorica coercet. The passage is probably still corrupt. 
^ Philosophers too, with reason, send far back again, ^.] Ver. 


Et tempestatem terrd. coeloque coortam, 
In coelum terramque remote jure facessunt, 
Quandoquidem nihil est, nisi raro corpore nexum. 

This is Wakefield's reading, and is translated according to his ex- 
position. " The atoms of a tempest," says he, " which arise from the 

286 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 958—985. 

tempest which has burst forth- from the earth and the heaven ; 
since they rightly consider that there is no combination of 
matter, ethereal or terrestrial, which is not of a consistence 
far-from-impenetrable to other atoms} 

To this is to he added, that all atoms, which are discharged 
from bodies, are not possessed of the same 'power to affect the 
senses, nor are they all alike adapted to all substances. 

The sun, we may first observe, extracts the moisture from 
the earth, and renders it dry ; while it melts ice, and forces 
the snows, piled on the high mountains, to dissolve in the heat 
of it9 rays. Wax, too, placed in the warmth of the sun, be- 
comes liquid. Fire, moreover, melts brass, and dissolves 
gold, but contracts and draws together the hides and flesh 
of animals. Water, also, hardens iron when fresh from the 
fire, but softens hides and flesh when hardened with heat. 
The wild olive tree, than which there is nothing that grows 
more bitter to the taste of man, delights the bearded goats as 
if it were flavoured with nectar and ambrosia. Swine, be- 
sides, shrink from ointment of amaracus,^ and dread every kind 
of perfume ; for that which seems, at times, to restore us, as 
it were, to life, is to bristly boars strong poison. Bui mud, 
on the contrary, which is to us most repulsive filth, seems 
clean and attractive to swine, so that they roll themselves 
over and over in it without being tired. 

There is this, likewise, which remains to he noticed, and 
which seems necessary to be stated before I proceed to speak 
of the exact subject before us. Since in various bodies are 
situated many pores, these pores must be distinguished by na- 
tures diflering from one another, and have respectively their 
own forms and shapes.^ For there are various senses in ani- 

heaven and earth, are into the heaven and earth received back again." 
With facessunt, which sadly wants a nominative, he understands 
philosophic and takes remote facessunt in the sense of send Jar back. 
Lambinus and Creech h^ve another lection, which, however, does 
not much alter the sense. 

^ Far-from-impenetrable to other atoms,"] Ver. 959. I have ren- 
dered raro hy far-from-impenetrable. See on ver. 943, 947- 

- Swine — shrink from ointment of amaracus.] Ver. 974. Amara- 
cinum fugitat sus. " Vetus adagium est, nihil cum fidibus graculo ; 
nihil cum amaracitw sui,** Aul. Gell, Pref. 

* Their own forms and shapes.] Ver. 984. Stiam naturam — viasque. 
All pores must have their own via by which they allow atoms to 

B. VI. 986—1014. LUCEETIUS. 287 

mals, of which each perceives for itself its own peculiar object ; 
since we observe that by one sense sounds penetrate into us, 
by another taste from the juices of foody by another the smell 
of perfume. Besides, one thing seems to pass through stone, 
another through wood, another through gold. One substance 
seems to penetrate silver, and another glass ; for through the 
latter images seem to pass, and through the former heat. 
One thing, too, seems to penetrate through the same passages 
quicker than another. This difference, you may be certain, 
the nature of the passages obliges to exist ; since it evidently 
varies (as we showed a little abovie) according to the different 
consistence and texture of bodies. 

For which reason, since all these points are established and 
laid down, and every thing prepared and made ready for us, 
the principle of the magnet will hence, moreover,^ be easily 
shown, and the whole cause, which attracts the substance of 
the iron, will be made manifest. 

In the first place, many atoms, or effluvia, must necessarily 
fly off from the stone, which, by their impact, disperse the 
air that is situate betwixt the stone and the iron. When this 
space is emptied, and a large void is made between them, 
atoms of the iron, inmiediately darting forward, rush in a body 
into the vacuum ; and the whole ring of necessity follows, and 
passes onward with its whole body. For no substance coheres 
and combines more closely, — having its primary-elements in- 
timately involved, — than the cold and rough consistence of 
stout ir<^n.^ It is therefore the less wonderful, if (as is 
stated) certain of its atoms,^ starting forth in a body from the 
iron itself cannot rush into the void without the whole ring 
following ; which it does, and continues to move until it has 

enter them; i. e. their own shapes. " Propriam figuram, propri- 
amque circumscriptionem." Creech, Comp, iv. 651, seq, 

^ Moreover.] Ver. 999. Quod auperest, 

* Cold and rough consistence of stout iron.] Ver. 1010. Validi 
ferri natur<B frigidtu horror. Horror means roughness^ as horreo, to he 
rough. Good translates the verse ludicrously enough, the cold steel, 
all horror to the touch; and, having picked up from WaKefield's notes 
Turn ferri rigor y (Virg. Geo. i. 143,) he translates it, at the foot of his 
page, still more ludicrously, "The steel's chill shudder." What is 
the shudder of steel? And was steel all horror to Dr. Good's touch? 

' Certain of its atoms,] -Ver. 1011, Ex elemerUis corpora, i. e. 
(Qusdam) corpuscula ex (annuli) corpuscidis.' Lambinus and 
Lachmann have other readings. 

288 LUCRETIUS. b. ti. 1015—1042. 

reached the stone itself, and has become fixed to it bj secret 
attachment. The same process takes place on all sides ; and 
wherever an empty space is formed, whether at the side qftke 
iron or above Uy the nearest atoms tend inmiediatelj into the 
void. For they are impelled by impacts from other surround- 
ing atoms ; nor can they, of themsdves, rise upwards, or pass 
away from the magnet^ into the air. 

To this \a tohe added another reason why this motion of 
due atoms may still more certainly take place ; namely, that as 
soon as the air before the ring has become thinner, and the 
space between it and the magnet more vacant and open, it 
immediately happens that the air which is situate at the back 
of the ring, carries it forward, as it were, and impels it from 
behind. For the air surrounding all bodies continually strikes 
upon them; but the air that surrounds the iron drives it for- 
ward at such times as it approaches the magnet, because the 
space on one side is empty, and receives it into itself. And 
this air too, of which I am speaking, subtilly conveying itself, 
through the numerous pores of the iron, into its amaU. recesses, 
thrusts and pushes it forward. This substance of the iron, 
accordingly, is helped ybrtrar^ by this assistance and impulse, 
as ships and their sails are driven onwards by the wind. 

All bodies, moreover, must contain air in their substance, 
since their consistence is more or less porous, and air sur- 
rounds and is in contact with every thing. This air, then, 
which is concealed within the iron, is continually agitated 
with a restless motion, and thus, doubtless, strikes upon the 
ring, and moves it, as you may conceive, internally ; and the 
whole air, within and without, tends in the same direction in 
which it has once started, and where it has found a vacuum 
to assist its efforts. 

It happens, too, at times, that the substance of the iron re- 
cedes * from this stone, a>s if accustomed to start back from it, 
and to follow it, by turns. 

* Substance of the iron recedes.] Ver. 1041. " It happens, too, 
says Lucretius, that the iron at times starts back from tne magnet, 
being accustomed sometimes to follow it, and sometimes to flee from 
it : to follow it, when nothing intervenes between the two ; and to 
flee from it, when brass is interposed." Larnbimis. Gassendi thought 
that Lucretius may have been acquainted with the diflerence in the 
two poles of the magnet ; but the poet, says Creech, doubtless had 
no more knowledge than he exhibits. 

B. VI. 1043—1070. LUCRETIUS. 289 

Thus have I seen iron rings of Samothrace,* as well as 
filings of iron, l^ng in brazen basins, thrown into agitation, 
and start up, when the magnet was applied underneath ; so 
that it seems desirous to flee away from the load'>stone, when 
the brass is interposed ; far it is bg the intervention of the 
brass that so great an aversion is produced ; since, as is evi- 
dent, when the effluvia of the brass have pre-occupied and 
filled up the open pores of the iron, the effluvia of the stone 
follow, and find all parts of the iron full ; and have no way 
to pass through, as the^ would have had before. They are 
therefore obliged to strike against the substance of the iron, 
and to drive it upward, with their own stream ; by which 
means the magnet repels from itself, and drives away through 
the brass, that metal, which, without the interference of the 
brass, it most frequently attracts. 

BtU do not wonder, in the cx)nsideration of these subjects, 
that the effluvia from this stone cannot also repel other sub- 
stances. For some substances remain unmoved as being sus- 
tained by their own weight ; of which sort is gold ; and others 
cannot be repulsed, because they are of a porous consistence, 
so that the effluvia pass through them unobstructed ; of which 
kind wood appeal's to be. The substance of iron, however, 
is placed between these two, so that, when it has admitted 
certain atoms of the brass^ it is then possible for the stream 
of particles from the magnet to impel it. 

Nor are these mutual affinities of the magnet and iron so 
unlike the affections of all other substances, but that many 
instances of the kind occur to me ; instances of bodies which 
I could mention as remarkably adapted to each other. 

In the first place, you see stones cemented only with lime. 
Wood is joined together with glue, prepared from certain 
parts of oxen ; and with such strength, that the veins of 
boards will open in cracks,^ sooner than the seams of ox-glue 
will relax their fastenings. ' 

* Iron rings of Samothrace.) Ver. 1043. Samoihracia ferrea. 
" Iron rings, so called from Samothrace, where they were first 
made. They were hollow, and were worn because they contained 
something of the nature of amulets, as a protection against harm." 
Lambinus. Wakefield refers to Isidore, Orig. xix. 32, and to Har- 
duin ad Plin. H. N. xxxiii. 6, p. 605. 

* Will open in cracks.] Ver. 1069. Vitio hiscant. 

290 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1071—1086. 

The juice of the vine is vnlling to mingle with spring 
water, while heavy pitch, and light olive oij^ refuse to unite 
with it. 

. The purple colour of the murex so blends in one body vdth 
wool, that it can never be extracted from it ; not even if you 
should strive to restore the wool to its whiteness with all the 
waves of the sea ; not even if the whole ocean, with all its 
floods, should be disposed to cleanse it. 

Moreover, one substance only couples gold with gold ; * and 
brass is united with brass onli/ by pewter.^ 

How many other facts of this nature is it possible to pro- 
duce ! But to what purpose would it be ? Neither are such 
long digressions necessary for you, nor does it become me 
to bestow so much labour on this one subject ; but it is 
proper for me to comprise many matters in brief space and 
in few words. 

To conclude^ then, respecting the magnet. Between those 
bodies, whose textures so mutually correspond,^ that the cavi- 
ties of this answer to the prominences of that, and the cavities 
of that to the prominences of this, the best union is evidently 
formed.* It is possible, also, we may observe, that some bodies 
may be held united as if with rings and hooks ;^ a mode of 

* One 'substance only couples gold with gold.] Ver. 1077. Ilea 
auro aurum concoptUat una, " The substance is chrysocoUa, that is, 
cement of gold ; the mode of making which you may learn from 
Pliny, H. N. xxxiii. 5." Lambisnus. Good says that chrysocolla is 
*' a mineral sand, found on the shores of the Red Sea, of an elegant 
green colour, denominated by the natives of modern times tincar, 
or tincal. The borax, now in use for similar purposes, does not differ 
essentially from the chrysocolla, when dissolved and crystallized, 
and is, by some chemists, supposed to be precisely the same." 

* Brass is united with brass only by pewter.] Ver. 1078. jErique 
as plumbo fit uti jungatur ah aJbo, " Pewter is, in the present day, 
the common solder for copper and brass ; it is generally a combin- 
ation of tin, lead, and re^ulus of antimony." Good. It would be 
wrong, he adds, to translate plumfmvii> album, white lead, " for the 
ceruse, or white lead of modem days, is no solder whatever in 
metallic preparations." 

' Textures so mutually correspond.] Ver. 1083. Ita textures ceci- 
dehint mutua contrd. "Texturae ita mutuo respondent." Creech. 

ControL ceciderunt means correspond, and mutua is adverbially for 

* The best union is evidently formed.] Ver. 1085. Inter se jmiciura 
fuBC optima constat. Lambinus reads horum. 

* United as if with rings and hooks.] Ver. 1086. He has before 

B. VI. 1087—1112. LUCRETIUS. 291 

union which seems to take place, rather than any other, be.- 
tween the loadstone and iron. 

I shall now explain what is the nature and origin of dis- 
eases/ and how a morbid infection o/* ^e air, suddenly arising, 
may spread deadly destruction among the race of mankind and 
the tribes of inferior animals. In the first place, I have already 
shown ^ that there are in many substances atoms which tend 
to preserve our life ; and, on the other hand, many must ne- 
cessarily fly abroad which are productive of disease and death ; 
and when these have by chance combined, and disordered the 
air, the air, when in this state, consequently becomes unwhole- 
some. And all this prevalence and pestilentialness of diseases 
arise either from without the earth, (as clouds and mists gather 
in the heaven above us,) or spring, as frequently happens, from 
the earth itself, when, drenched with immoderate and un- 
timely rains, and acted upon by fierce rays of the sun, it has 
contracted a kind of putrescence. 

Do you not observe, also, how those who visit any place 
far from their country and their home, are affected by the 
change in the air and water ? And this happens, because the 
substances in those elements greatly differ. For how much 
must we suppose that the air of the Britons varies from that 
which is in Egjrpt, where the north pole of the world fails to 
show itself?^ Or how much must we imagine that that which 
hangs over Pontus differs from that which stretches over 
Cadiz, and towards the races of men blackened by the parching 
heat of the sun?^ These four kinds of air, which we observe 
to proceed from the four winds and four several quarters of 
the heaven, we know to be different one from another ; and the 
complexion and looks of the men, abo, appear to differ widely ; 
and peculiar diseases seem to affect each individual nation. 

shown how the iron may be brought to the loadstone, and he now 
shows how it may be held attached to it. 

^ Origin of diseases.] Ver. 1089. From showing how the atoms of 
the magnet and iron act on one another, he makes a transition to 
the action of atoms on the human frame, so as to produce disease. 

* I have already shown.] Ver. 1093. See iv. 634 ; v. 897 : vi. 769. 

* Where the north pole of the world fails to show itself.] Ver. 1106. 
Qud mundi claudicat axis. "That is, where the arctic pole, which to 
us is always visible high in the heaven, is depressed below the hori- 
zon." Lambinus, *^Claudicat for dejicit." Creech. 

* Parching heat e/^Aewm.] Ver. 1108. Percocto colore. See ver. 

u 2 

292 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1113—1132. 

There is the disease called leprosy,^ which has its rise on 
the river Nile, in the middle of Egypt, and in no other 

In Attica the feet^ are affected with the gout; and in the 
country of Achaia the eyes are afflicted with soreness. Hence 
various regions are unfavouraUe to various parts and mem- 
bers ; and this effect the difference of the air produces. 

When that air, therefore, which to us w strong poison, puts it- 
self in motion, and an unwholesome atmosphere begins to spread^ 
it creeps along, by degrees, like a mist or cloud, and disorders 
the whole heaven, wherever it advances, and compels it to 
alter its nature. It happens, accordingly, that when this cor- 
neptair has at length joined our air, it infects it, and renders 
it like itself, and unsuitable ybr its. 

This new malady and pest, therefore, either suddenly fall* 
into the water, or penetrates into the very corn, or into other 
food of men and cattle. Or even, as may be the case, the in- 
fection remains suspended in the air itself;^ and when, as we 
breathe, we inhale the air mingled with it, we must neces- 
sarily absorb those seeck of disease into our body. By a 
similar process a pestilence often spreads among oxen ; and 
contagion among dull sheep. Nor does it make any difier- 

* Leprosy.] Ver. 1113. ElephoA, Poetically for elephantiasis; a 
kind of leprosy. " Some assert that this disease affects only those 
inhabitants of Egypt who drink the water of the Nile; but Celsus, 
iii. 25, says that though it is almost unknown in Italy, it is in some 
countries very common.** Creech. 

* In Attica the feet, ^c] Ver. 1115* The commentators cite no 
other authorities for tne prevalence of these diseases in these coun> 

■ The infection remains suspended in the air itself.] Ver. 1126* 

The all-surreunding heaven, the vital air, 

Is big with death. And though the putrid south 

Be shut : though no convulsive agony 

Shake, from the deep foundations of the world, 

Th' imprison'd plagues ; a secret venom oft 

Corrupts the air, the water, and the land. 

What livid deaths has sad Byzantium seen ! 

How oft has Cairo, with a mother's woe. 

Wept for her slaughter'd sons and lonely streets ! 

Ev'n Albion, girt with less malignant skies, 

Albion, the poison of the gods has drunk. 

And felt the stii^ of monsters all her own. 

Armstrong y Art of P. H. iii. 521. 

B. VI. 1133—1144. LUCRETIUS. 293 

ence, whether we go into clunates that are unfavourable to us, 
and change the atmosphere around us ourselves, or whether 
nature, of her own accord, brings upon us corrupt air, or any 
other affection which we are not accustomed to experience, 
and which, at its first approach, may infect us with disease. 

Such a cause of disease, and such deadly vapour in the 
atmosphere, formerly rendered the fields poisonous throughout 
the territories of Attica ; * it both dispeopled the roads, and 
exhausted the city of its inhabitants. For, having its rise in 
I'emote parts, proceeding from the coasts of Egypt, and having 
passed through a long tract of air, and over the Hquid plains 
of the sea^ it at length descended on the people of Pandion,^ 
and all were then consigned by troops to disease and death. 

They first found the head burning with heat,' and the eyes 

* Territories of Attica.] Ver. 1187. " Here follows a description 
of the plague which formerly devastated Athens, drawn from the 
second Dook of Thucydides, and the third of Hippocrates de Morbis 
Popularibus. This description Lucretius has ffiven with such effect, 
that, in the (minion of Macrobius, (Sat. vi. 2,) ne afforded matter for 
imitation to yir^il, Georg. iii. 478, seq. Certainly Ovid took some- 
thing from him m the seventh book of the Metamorphoses." Creech, 

I should observe that I have omitted here and^ there a conjunc- 
tion or two, which, though serviceable in Lucretius's verse, woidd 
but have clogged English prose. 

Armstrong, in his Art of Preserving Health, book iii., has a short 
description of a plag^e,^ in some passages of which he^ has copied 
Thucydides and Lucretius. I shall notice a few of his imitations. 

Diodorus Siculus, xii. 7^ mentions three causes of this plague : a 
superabundance of rain m the middle of summer, whicn caused 
miasma to spread through the atmosphere ; the want of proper food, 
the fruits of the preceding year having been crude and unwhole- 
some ; and the defection of the Etesian winds, which, in other years, 
used to temper the heat in summer. Hence, says he, men's bodies 
contracted an evil habit, from which arose all sorts of burning dis- 

^^ reople of Pandion.] Ver. 1142. Pandion was a king of Athens 
in its earliest days. 

' They first found the head burning with heat] Ver. 1143. Prin- 
ctpio caput incentum fervore gerebant. This is taken from Thucydide9. 
This passage, rendered as follows by Le Blanc de Guillet, will af- 
ford a specimen of his version : 

D' abord ces malheureux, k la vue alarm^e, 
S'offroient, les yeux ardens, et la t6te enflamm6e. 
Bientdt un sang epais suintoit de leur gosier, 
Oil des ulc^res noirs, prompts k ae de^Vo^^t^ 

294 LUCRETIUS. B. n. 1145—1159. 

red with an extraordinary brilliancy shed over them. The 
jaws, also, which looked black within, exuded blood ; and the 
passage of the voice was clogged and obstructed ^ with ulcers. 
The tongue, the interpreter of the mind, was covered with 
drops of gore, and wa^ enfeebled by the disease, slow 'in its 
motion, and rough to the touch. 

Then, when the pestilential influence, descending through 
the jaws, had filled the chest and gathered in the suffering 
stomach^ of the patients, all the defences of life at once 
gave way. 

The breath sent forth a fetid odour from the mouth, such 
as putrid carcasses, cast out upon the earthy emit. The powers 
of the whole mind, and the whole body, grew languid, as jf 
on the very threshold of death. On these intolerable suffer- 
ings was perpetually attendant an anxious distress of mind, 
and complaints mingled with moanings. A retching,' too, 

Interceptant la voix, V 6toaffaient dans la bouche. 
De r ame appesantie, interpr^te farouche, 
La langue foible, rude, et n* ayant au'un jeu lent, 
*Se distulait de m^me en fluide sanglant. 
Lorsqu' enfin, du gosier, coulant dans la poitrine, 
Ministres dangereux d' une guerre intestine, 
Ces poisons, en torrens, la portaient dans le coeur; 
Les ressorts de la vie, k leur effort vainqueur, ^ 
S' 6branlaient, s* 6croulaient, tout pr6ts a se dissoudre. 
Des cadavres infects, pourrissans nans le poudre, 
D* une haleine empest^e, on exhalait V odeur. 
L* ame 6toit*sans ressort ; cedant & sa lang^eur, 
A sa destruction, le corps touchait, comme elle. 
E quelle anxiety profonde, universelle ! 
Quels chagrins douloureux, quels long gemissemens 
M6l6s de cris plaintifs de momens en momens ! 
Quels sanglots, nuit et jour, irrite ces tortures, 
Contracte tous les nerfs, les membres, leur jointinres; 
Dissolve r homme en tier, 6puis6 d^s long temps ! 

* Clogged and obstructed.] Ver. 1147. Sapta coibcU. 

' Stoipach.] Ver. 1151. Cor. " The stomach. The ancient 
physicians, says the Scholiast on Thucydides, called the stomach 
Kapdia, or the heart and pain in the stomach, KapSiiayfiOQ,** Creech. 

' A retching.] Ver. 1159. SinguUu». The term answering to this, 
in the description of Thucydides, is XvyK Ktvij, on which Dr. Arnold 
makes the following observations. " A^v$ is what we call a hiccough, 
(compare Plato, Sympos. p. 185,) but nere it seems to be almost 
approaching to what is called * retching ; ' and \^l Ktvn is that inef- 
fectual retching consequent upon exhaustion, when nothing is actu- 

B. Ti. 1169—1172. LUCRETIUS. 295 

frequently occurring both by night and by day, convulsed the 
nerves from time to time, aod, contracting the limbs, rendered 
the sufferers powerless, exbauating those who were already 
wearied out wirt pain. 

Vet you could not perceive the surface of the body of any 
one eitenially' inflamed witb at^ extraordinary degree of 
heal, but rather offering a sensation of gentle warmth to the 
hand. At the same time, however, all the body looked red with 
ulcers, as it were, burning in it ;* as it appears when the ery- 
sipelas spreads over the limbs. But the internal part of the 
patient was glowing with heat, that penetrated even into the 
bones ; a fire raged in the stomach, as in a furnace } sq that you 
could have rendered no garment, however light and thin, of 
use to the person of any one ; they constantly exposed their 
limbs, burning with the disease, to the wind and the cold ; and 
some (Areu) l!Ann«e/tie« into cool rivers, precipitating their bodies 
naked into the waters. Many, approaching the irinh with 

ally brouttht off the Btomach." The espresaion "ineffectual retch- 
ing," has been adopted by Mr. Dale in his translation of Thucydidee. 
For \i-fS and ritijuftw the lexicons give nothiog but toibir^ or Aic. 
£up, but in t}ie»e imsaages of Thucjdides and Lucretius something 
more is evidently intended. 

The ScholianC on Thucjdides says that " there wu a X^yE w\iiptit 
a* well SB i-iyK uvij, as Hij^ocrates observes'" I have not been 
able to find this distinction m Hippocrates, but it may be discover- 
able. From the manner in which Hippocrates often uses the word 
XiyK, he seems at times to mean more by it than we understand by 
hiccup. Thus Apbor. vii. 3: 'Bri iptTifXir/i nai d^oXfio! ipi&poi, 
tatov. De Morb.iii. 19: ivirav ovv irpoirg tal XiyK Spa, cni aVpiiac 
^fiB/iSovs drB^iiviry Sua r^ iruUv /liXavat, ofroc dwoSv^atti Itloiiaiat. 
In the pasaage of Plato to which Arnold lefers, Synipos. c. 13, it 
means simply hiccup. 

Of the translators of Lucretius, Creech, for /rejuwurifwuftw, gives 
"vexing; sobs;" Busby, "melting momentary sobs;" Good, ''hic- 
cough deep ; " and the old version, which Good calls Guemier'a, 
"frequent sobbings." The French tranalatore, Le Blanc de Quillet 
and Pongerville, give nngloU. 

Thick and pantinglv 
The breath was fetcb'd, and with huge lab'rings heaved. 

Amutrong, Art of P. H. iii. SSS- 

' Surface of the body externally.] Ver. 1163. Corporit in 

' Ulcers, as it were, burning in i(.] Ver. IISS. UkerilmM gwui 
tnuttii. See on ver. 723, 

296 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1173—1199. 

open mouths, hurled themselves headlong down* into the 
water in wells ; for a parching thirst, raging insatiably, and 
driying-^Ae//2-to-plunge their bodies into the fioody made vast 
showers seem only as small drops. 

Nor was there any intermission of the malady ; the bodies 
of men lay exhausted ; medicine spoke in low tones with a 
secret dread ;^ so incessantly did the patients roll their eyes, 
which remained wide open, burning with disease, and un- 
visited by sleep. Many other signs of death at the same time 
showed themselves ; the mind was distracted with anguish 
and dread ; the brow was gloomy ; the look wild and fierce ; 
the ears disturbed and filled with noises ; the breathing was 
either fast, or thick, or drawn but seldom ; there was a moist 
dew of perspiration shining upon the neck ; the saliva was 
thin^ scanty, and tinged with the colour of saffron; it was 
also salt, and expelled with difficulty from the hoarse throat 
by coughing. Li the hand, the nerves contracted ; and the 
whole arm shook. From the feet a coldness rose quickly, 
yc^ gradually,^ over the body ; the nostrils, towards the closing 
hour of life, were compressed ; the point of the nose was sbarp ; 
the eyes were hollow ; the temples sunk ; the skin cold and 
hard; a distortion overspreading the mouth; the forehead 
tense and prominent ; and, not long after these appearances^ 
the limbs lay stretched in rigid death ; and for the most part, 
when the eighth light of the sun shone, or, at farthest, at his 
ninth rising, they yielded up their life. 

Of which sufferers, if any one^br a time escaped death, (as 
was possible, either by reason of the foul ulcers breaking, or 
by means of a black discharge from the intestines,) yet con- 

* Hurled themselves — down.] Ver. 1178. AUiinciderunt, Fell 
from on high, from the high brink. 

' Medicine spoke in low tones with a secret dread.] Ver. 1 178. 
Mu88aba;t tcicito medicina timore* 

The Salutary Art 

Was mute ; and, startled at the new disease, 
In fearful whispers hopeless omens ^ave. 

Armstrong, Art of Preservmg Health, book iii. 

Silius Italicus, in his description of the plague that happened in 
Sicily, during the siege of Syracuse by Marcellus, has ** Succubuit 
Medicina malis." xiv. 669. 

' Rose quickly, yet gradually.] Ver. 1191. MintUatim succedere 
non dubitabat. 

B. VI. 1200-1220. LUCRETIUS. 297 

sumption and destruction awaited him at last ; or, as was often 
the case, an excessive flux of corrupt blood, attended with 
violent pains in the head, issued from the obstructed nostrils ; 
and, by this outlet, the whole strength and substance of the 
man passed awaj. 

He, moreover, who had escaped this violent flux of foul 
blood, was not certain wholly to recover; for still the disease 
was readj-to-pass into his nerves and joints, and into the 
very genial organs of the body. And of those who suffered 
thus, some, fearing the gates of death, continued to live, though 
deprived by the steel of the virile part ; and some, though 
without hands and feet, and though they lost their eyes, yet 
persisted-to-renudn in life; so strong a dr^id of death had taken 
possession of them. Upon some, too, came forgetfulness ^ of 
all things, so that they knew not even themselves. 

And though numerous corpses, heaped upon corpses, lay 
extended over the ground, yet the tribes of birds, and of wild 
beasts, either ran off to a distance, to avoid the repulsive 
stench, or, after having tasted the fleshy sickened with instant 

But, indeed, during those days, scarcely any bird appeared 
in the shy; nor did the destructive tribes of savage beasts 
leave the woods during the nights. Most of them suflered 
from the disease, and died ; the faithful spirit of the dog,^ espe-> 

* Upon some, too, came forgetfulness, 4^.] Ver. 1210. 

A wild delirium came ; their weeping friends 
Were strangers now, and this no home of theirs. 
Harassed with toil on toil, the sinking powers 
Lay prostrate and o'erthrown ; a ponderous sleep 
Wrapt all the senses up ; they slept and died. 

Amitnmg, Art of P. H. iii. 562. 
' The faithful spuit of the dog.] Ver. 1220. Fida eanum vi$. 
Compare Canum permiua vis, iv. 683. Thucydides, ii. 50, alludes to 
the eifect of the disease on the dogs ; and Homer makes the infec- 
tion of his plague seize on doppi among the first : 

On mules and dogs th' infection first began. Pope. 
So VirgU, Geo. iii. 496: 

Hinc canibus blandis rabies venit. 

Then on bland dogs the madd'ning influence felL 
And so Siiius Italicua, xiy. 594 : 

Vim primi sensere canes. 

The dogs were first the dire disease to feel. 

298 LUCRETIUS. B. VI. 1221—1243. 

ciallj, stretched along all the streets, unwillingly relinquished 
life ; the force of the disease, however, wrested the vital power 
from his limbs. 

Funerals, unattended and solitary, were eagerly hurried 
over.^ Nor was there any certain mode of cure common and 
efficient for all. For that which had secured to one the privi- 
lege of breathing the vital air,^ and of beholding the regions 
of the sky, was mere poison to others, and hastened their 

But that which, in these circumstances, was pre-eminently 
deplorable and wretched, was, that when any one found him- 
self seized with the pestilence, he lay down, as if he were con- 
denmed^ to death, sunk in spirit, andYnth a despairing heart,^ 
thinking anlt/ of death, and gave up the ghost on the same 
spot on which he fell. 

At no time, however, did the contagion of the insatiable 
disease cease to spread itself from one man to another, as a 
murrain is disseminated Among woolly sheep and horned cattle. 
And this circumstance, even above all others, heaped death 
upon death. For on those, who shrunk from visiting their 
sickfriends, fatal neglect soon took vengeance, (as having been 
too fond of life and too apprehensive of death,) causing ^em to 
perish by a squalid and miserable end, deserted bg their rela- 
tives, and destitute of relief. But those who had been ready 
to give assistance, fell into the maladg from infection, and by 
reason of the duty which shame, and the moving entreaties of 

* Were eagerly hurried over.] Ver. 1224, Hapi certahant. It 
would seem either that this verse is out of its place, or that the 
passaee is defective. 

' Tne privilege of breathing the vital air.] Ver. 1226. VUaJes 
acris auras Volvere in ore licere, 

' As if he were condemned.] Ver. 1231. Damnatus ut esset. " Ut 
for quasi,** Faber. 

* Sunk in spirit, and with a despairing heart.] Ver. 1232. 

Of every hope deprived ; 
Fatigued with vain resources ; and subdued 
With woes resistless and enfeebling fear : 
Passive they sunk beneath the weighty blow. 
Nothing but lamentable sounds was heard» 
Nor aught was seen but ghastly vie^ys of death. 
Infectious horror ran from face to face, 
And pale despair. 

B. VI. 1244—1266. lUCRETIUS. 299 

the sufferers, mingled with sounds of reproach,^ compelled 
them to undergo. The most excellent characters^ accordingly, 
incurred this kind of death most /recently. 

Those, moreover, who strove to bury the multitude of their 
dead, one after another,^ returned home overcome with weep- 
ing and mourning. Hence men were stretched on their beds 
in great numbers, through sorrow and despondency ; nor Could 
any one be found, whom, in such a time of calamity^ neither 
disease, nor death, nor moumingybr the loss offriendsy had af- 

Besides, as the pestilence now spread, every shepherd and 
herdsman,' as well as every stout driver of the crboked plough, 
languished under the infection; their bodies lay cooped up 
within their narrow huts, consigned to death from the effects 
o/'want and disease. You might have seen the dead corpses 
of parents stretched on their dead children, and sometimes, 
again, children expiring on the bodies of their mothers and 

And this affliction was brought, in no small portion, into 
the city from the country ; affliction which a sick and in- 
fected multitude of rustics, flocking together from all parts, 
introduced. They crowded all places of reception and of 
shelter ; for which reason, as they were thus crammed toge- 
ther, death the more j easily strewed them in heaps by the 
force of contagion. 

Many bodies, from the effects o/* thirst, lay stretched at the 
public conduits,^ prostrate and extended along the road, their 
breath having been stopped by too great indulgence in the 
deliciousness of the water. And every where, along the open 
and public roads,^ you might have seen powerless lunbs, with 

^ Mingled with sounds of reproach.] Ver. 1244. MixtA voce que^ 
reUB, Tne voice of complaint or reproach being mixed with en- 

* One after another.] Ver. 1246. Inqtte aUia alium, .**Alterum 
post alterum.'* Wakefield. One among others. 

' Stretched at the public conduits.] Ver. 1264. Silanos ad aqua- 
rum strata, Silanus was a conduit or water-pipe, or other orifice for 
a stream ; a word of uncertain derivation. Gessner thinks that heads 
of the Tullii, Marsy»,,Silani, ^c, were fixed over the conduits, which 
were accordingly named from them. 

* Along the open and public roads.] Ver. 1266. Per pqpuU loca 
prompta viaaque. 

300 LUCRETIUS. B,vi. 1267—1277. 

half-dead bodies of men, horrible with squalor, covered with 
rags, and perishing for want of dressing ; there was skin only 
on the bones, ^ which was itself now almost sunk away, by rea- 
son of disease of the viscera, and overspreading filth. 

All the sacred temples of the gods, moreover, death had 
now crowded with carcasses; all the shrines of the divini- 
ties, in every part, stood filled with corpses ; for these were 
places which the attendants of the temples had thronged with 
strangers. Nor, indeed^ was the worship of the gods, or their 
divinities, much regarded; for present suffering overcame 
religious considerations. 

Nor was the custom of sepulture,^ with which that pious 

* Skin only on the bones, ^c.] Ver. 1269. 

Pellji super ossibus una, 
Visceribus tetris prope jam sordique sepulta. 

I have rendered aepuUa " sunk away," endeavouring to give some 
sense to the passage as it stands in Wakefield and Forbiger. 
** Pelle," says Wakefield, " visceribus inustis consolidatisque obrut& 
et deperdit&." But in truth visccribw makes the passage nonsense; 
all ottier editors, except Wakefield, Forbiger, and Eichstadt, have 

' Nor was the custom of sepulture, 4r^.] Ver. 1277. " In these 
last verses the poet relates, that the Athenians were not content 
with polluting tneir holy places with dead bodies, but transgressed 
likewise all their laws concerning funerals, (which they had till 
then observed,) and buried their dead as they could, wherever they 
found room. * * * By the unanimous* consent of all authors, the 
Athenians were of all people the most ceremonious in the funerals 
of their dead, whom they honoured even to the highest superstition. 
If any one neglected to pay the rites of burial to those who were 
slain in war, he was punished with death ; and the pomp and ex- 
pense of funerals grew at length to such excess among them, that 
Solon was forced to put a stop to it by laws ; but when this plague 
was raging at Athens, no funeral rites were observed ; — as the his- 
torian, from whom our poet has taken this passage, relates." Com- 
mentaryon Creeches TVanakUion, 

Qualis Erechthonios pestis populata colonos, 
Extulit antiquas per rimera pacis Athenas, 
Alter in alterius iabens cum fata ruebat ; 
Nee locus erat artis medics : nee vota valebant ; 
Cesserat officium morbis, et funera deerant ^ 
Mortibus, et lacrymse ; fessus defecerat ignis, 
Et coacervatis ardebant corpora membris. 

Manilius, i. 882. 

Through Erecthean lands when that plague stray 'd, 
And Athens waste by peaceful funerals laid ; 

B. VI. 1278—1285. LUCRETIUS. 301 

people had always been accustomed to bury,* observed longer 
in the city. For the whole people, in perturbation, ran hither 
and thither ;2 and each in his sorrow buried his friend accord- 
ing to his means. 

Dire poverty, too, with sudden impulse, prompted men to 
many impious deeds; for they placed their relatives, with 
loud outcries, on the funeral piles raised for others,' and ap- 
plied torches to them; often even quarrelling, with great 
bloodshed, rather than the bodies should be left unconsumed. 

When each contracted other's death ; then art 
No cure could find, nor prayers could help impart ; 
Care to the sick, and funerals to the dead, 
Ev'n tears were wantine; those no mourners shed ; 
The wearied flame did from its office cease ; 
Heaps of fired bones bumtthe dead carcasses. 

Sir Edward Sherburne, 

* Had — ^been accustomed to bury.] Ver. 1278. Consuerat humart. 
The sense requires humarcy which Creech gives in his interpretation. 
The people had been accustomed to bury (their dead), not to be bu- 

' Ran hither and thither.) Ver. 1279. Repedabat: which Wake- 
field interprets discuraitahat Lambinus and Creech, whom Lach- 
mann follows, ^ve irepidc^at, 

' Funeral piles raised for others.} Ver. 1282. Aliena rogorum— 

Thus abruptly end4 the description of the plague, and the poem 
of Lucretius. 

Much of the account of the pestilence, as is observed above, is 
taken from Thucydides. I have not Uioup^ht it necessary to trans- 
cribe in the notes the passages of Thucydides which Lucretius imi- 
tates ; the English reader may refer to the whole description in Mr. 
Dale's Thucydides; and the scholar has ample references in Lam- 
binus and Creech. 

Procopius has given a full account of the plague which began to 
spread tnrough the world, and devastated the city of Constantinople, 
in the reign of Justinian ; an account in which Gibbon says that he 
" has emulated the skill and diligence of Thucydides in his descrip- 
tion of the plague at Athens." It is observable that he represents 
it, like that of Athens, as takings its rise from Egypt. " Ethiopia and 
Egypt," says Gibbon, (ch. xliii. subjin.y) "have been stigmatized, 
in every age, as the gnreat source and seminary of the plague. In a 
damp, hot, stagnating air, this African fever is generated from the 
putrefaction of animal substances, and especially from the swarms 
of locusts, not less destructive to mankind in their death than in 
their lives." 

The assertion of Macrobius, (Sat. vi. 2,) that Virgil took the prin- 


Gtipal colouring and features of his description of a pestilence among- 
cattle (Georg. iii. 478 — 566) from Lucretius 's picture of the Athenian 

Slague, rests on very slight foundation. Virgil may have been in- 
uced to write his description in emulation of that of Lucretius ; 
but very little that is actually copied will be found in it. In Ovid's 
description of the same Athenian pestilence, (Metam. vii. 523 — 613,) 
the attentive reader will find far more marks of imitation. 

Silius Italicus (xiv. 680 — 617) also, like his s^reat predecessors, 
g^ves a description of the plajg^e which attacked the Koman army 
at the siege of Syracuse. Many of his points are taken from Lu- 
cretius, as in the following passage : 

Helpless the victims sunk ; the tonjp^e was parched ; 
Cold perspiration o'er the trembling frame 
Flowed copious ; while the tumid throat forbade 
The food's half-forced descent ; a vehement cough 
Shook the vexed lungs ; and from the arid mouth 
Fumed fiery breath, that ceaseless thirst proclaimed. 
The eyes, that scarce th' oppressive li^ht could bear. 
Sunk in aeep ghastly hollows by the side 
Of the sharp nose ; foul bile, commixed with blood, 
Forth gushes from the stomach ; the weak limbs, 
Fleshless and wasted, shrink to skin and bone. 

The general features of pestilential destruction are also carefully 
detailed by Seneca in his (Edipus, Act i. 

Thomson has a passage on tne effects of pestilence* Summer, ver. 
1026, seq. 

Boccacio, in his descrii)tion of the plague at Florence, seems to 
have had Thucydides in view. 

If the reader wish to see more accounts of pestilence, in imagin- 
ative writers, he may consult Defoe's "History of the Plague;'* 
Wilson's "City of the Plague :" Brockden Brown's "Arthur Mer- 
vyn ;" Horace Smith's " Bramoletve House ;" Mrs, Shelley's " Last 
Man;" Ainsworth's " Old Saint taul's." 







Fabent of Rome ! by gods and men beloved, 
Benignant Venus ! thou, the sail-clad main 
And fruitful earth, as round the seasons roll, 
With life who swellest, for by thee all live. 
And, living, hail the cheerful light of day : — 5 

Thee, goddess, at thy glad approach, the winds, 
The tempests fly : dedalian Earth to thee 
Pours forth her sweetest flowerets : Ocean laughs, 
And the blue heavens in cloudless splendour decked. 
For, when the Spring first opes her frolic eye, 10 

And genial zephyrs long locked up respire, 
Thee, goddess, then, th' aerial birds confess, 
To rapture stung through every shivering plume : 
Thee, the wild herds ; hence, o'er the joyous glebe 
Bounding at large; or, with undaunted chest, 15 

Stemming the torrent tides. Through all that lives 
So, by thy charms, thy blandishments o'erpowered. 
Springs the warm wish thy footsteps to pursue : 
Till through the seas, the mountains, and the floods. 
The verdant meads, and woodlands filled with song, 20 
Spurred by desire each palpitating tribe 
Hastes, at thy shrine, to plant the future race. 

Since, then, with universal sway thou rul'st. 
And thou alone ; nor aught without thee springs. 


Aught gay or lovely ; thee I woo to guide 25 

Aright my flowing song, that aims to paint 

To Memmius' view the essences op things : 

Memmius, my friend, by thee, from earliest youth, 

O goddess ! led, and trained to every grace. 

Then, O, vouchsafe thy favour, power divine ! 30 

And with immortal eloquence inspire. 

Quell, too, the fury of the hostile world, 

And lull to peace, that all the strain may hear. 

For peace is thine : on thy soft bosom he, 

The warlike field who sways, almighty Maks, 35 

Struck by triumphant Love's eternal wound. 

Reclines full frequent : with uplifted gaze 

On thee he feeds his longing, lingering eyes. 

And all his soul hangs quivering from thy lips. 

O ! while thine arms in fond embraces clasp 40 

His panting members, sovereign of the heart ! 

Ope thy bland voice, and intercede for Rome. 

For, while th' unsheathed sword is brandished, vain 

And all unequal is the poet's song ; 

And vain th' attempt to claim his patron's ear. 45 

Son of the Memmu ! thou, benignant, too, 
Freed from all cares, with vacant ear attend ; 
Nor turn, contemptuous, ere the truths I sing. 
For thee first harmonized, are full perceived. 
Lo ! to thy view I spread the rise of things ; 50 

Unfold th' immortals, and their blest abodes : 
How Nature all creates, sustains, matures, 
And how, at length, dissolves ; what forms the mass, 
Termed by the learned. Matter, Seeds of Things, 
And generative Atoms, or, at times, 55 

Atoms primordial, as hence all proceeds. 

Far, far from mortals, and their vain concerns. 
In peace perpetual dwell th' immortal gods : 
Each self-dependent, and from human wants 
Estranged for ever. There, nor pain pervades, 60 

Nor danger threatens ; every passion sleeps ; 
Vice no revenge, no rapture virtue prompts. 

Not thus mankind. Them long the tyrant power 
Of Superstition swayed, uplifting proud 
Her head to heaven, and with horrific limbs 65 


Brooding o'er earth ; till he, the man of Greece, 

Auspicious rose, who first the combat dared. 

And broke in twain the monster's iron rod. 

No thunder him, no fell revenge pursued 

Of heaven incensed, or deities in arms. 70 

Urged rather, hence, with more determined soul. 

To burst through Nature's portals, from the crowd 

With jealous caution closed ; the flaming walls 

Of heaven to scale, and dart his dauntless eye, 

Till the vast whole beneath him stood displayed. 75 

Hence taught he us, triumphant, what might spring. 

And what forbear : what powers inherent lurk. 

And where their bounds and issues. And, hence, we, 

Triumphant too, o'er Superstition rise, 

Contemn her terrors, and unfold the heavens. 80 

Nor deem the truths Philosophy reveals 
Corrupt the mind, or prompt to impious deeds. 
No : Superstition may, and nought so soon. 
But Wisdom never. Superstition 'twas 
Urged the fell Grecian chiefs, with virgin blood, 85 

To stain the virgin altar. Barbarous deed ! 
And fatal to their laurels ! AuLis saw. 
For there Diana reigns, th' unholy rite. 
Around she looked ; the pride of Grecian maids, 
The lovely Iphigenia, round she looked, — 90 

Her lavish tresses, spuming still the bond 
Of sacred fillet, flaunting o'er her cheeks, — 
And sought, in vain, protection. She surveyed 
Near her, her sad, sad sire ; th' officious priests 
Repentant half, and hiding their keen steel, 95 

And crowds of gazers weeping as they viewed. 
Dumb with alarm, with supplicating knee. 
And lifted eye, she sought compassion still ; 
Fruitless and unavailing : vain her youth. 
Her innocence, and beauty ; vain the boast 100 

Of regal birth ; and vain that first herself 
Lisped the dear name of Father, eldest bom. 
Forced from her suppliant posture, straight she viewed 
The altar full prepared : not there to blend 
Connubial vows, and light the bridal torch ; 105 

But, at the moment when mature in charms. 


While Hymen called aload, to fall, e'en then, 

A father's victim, and the price to pay 

Of Grecian navies, favoured thus with gales. — 

Such are the crimes that Superstition prompts ! 110 

And dost thou still resist us ? trusting still 
The fearful tale by priests and poets told ? — 
I, too, could feign such fables ; and combine 
As true to fact, and of as potent spell. 
To freeze thy blood, and harrow every nerve. — 115 

Nor wrong th' attempt. Were mortal man assured 
Eternal death would close this life of woe. 
And nought remain of curse beyond the grave, 
E'en then religion half its force would lose ; 
Vice no alarm, and virtue feel no hope. 120 

But, whilst the converse frights him, man will dread 
Eternal pain, and flee from impious deeds. 
Yet doubtful is the doctrine, and unknown 
Whether, co-eval with th' external frame. 
The soul first lives, when lives the body first, 125 

Or boasts a date anterior : whether doomed 
To common ruin, and one common grave. 
Or through the gloomy shades, the lakes, the caves, 
Of Erebus to wander : or, perchance, 
As Ennius taught, immortal bard, whose brows 1 30 

Unfading laurels bound, and still whose verse 
All Rome recites, entranced — perchance condemned 
The various tribes of brutes, with ray divine. 
To animate and quicken : though the bard. 
In deathless melody, has elsewhere sung 1 35 

Of AcHERUSiAN temples, where, nor soul 
Nor body dwells, but images of men. 
Mysterious shaped ; in wondrous measure wan. 
Here Homer's spectre roamed, of endless fame 
Possest : his briny tears the bard surveyed, 1 40 

And drank the dulcet precepts from his lips. 

Such are the various creeds of men. And hence 
The philosophic sage is called t' explain. 
Not the mere phases of the heavens alone. 
The sun's bright path, the moon's perpetual change, 145 
And powers of earth productive, but to point. 
In terms appropriate, the dissevering lines 


'Twixt mind and brutal life ; and prove precise 
Whence spring those shadowy forms, which, e'en in hours 
Wakeful and calm, but chief when dreams molest, 150 

Or dire disease, we see, or think we^ see, 
Though the dank grave have long their bones inhumed. 

Tet not unknown to me how hard the task 
Such deep obscurities of Greece t' unfold 
In Latin numbers ; to combine new terms, 155 

And strive with all our poverty of tongue. — 
But such thy virtue, and the friendship pure 
My bosom bears, that arduous task I dare ; 
And yield the sleepless night, in hope to cull 
Some happy phrase, some wdl-selected verse, 160 

Meet for the subject ; to dispel each shade, 
And bid the mystic doctrine hail the day. 
For shades there are, and terrors of the soul. 
The day can ne'er disperse, though blazing strong 
With all the sun's bright javelins. These alone 165 

To Nature yield, and Reason ; and, combined, 
This is the precept they for ever teach, 


But the blind fear, the superstition vain 
Of mortals uninformed, when spring, perchance, 170 

In heaven above, or earth's sublunar scene. 
Events to them impervious, instant deem 
Some power supernal present, and employed. — 
Admit this truth, that nought prom nothing springs. 
And all is clear. Developed, then, we trace, 175 

Through Nature's boundless realm, the rise of things. 
Their modes, and powers innate ; nor need from heaven 
Some god's descent to rule each rising fact. 

Could things from nought proceed, then whence the use 
Of generative atoms, binding strong 180 

Kinds to their kinds perpetual ? Man himself 
Might spring from ocean ; from promiscuous earth 
The finny race, or feathery tribes of heaven : 
Prone down the skies the bellowing herds might bound. 
Or frisk from cloud to cloud: while flocks, and beasts 185 
Pierce and most savage, undefined in birth. 
The field or forest might alike display. 
Each tree, inconstant to our hopes, would bend 



With foreign frui't : and all things all things yield. 
Whence but from elemental seeds that act 190 

With trath, and power precise, can causes spring 
Powerful and true themselves ? But grant such seeds, 
And all, as now, through Nature's wide domain. 
In time predicted, and predicted place, 
Must meet the day concordant ; must assume 195 

The form innately stampt, and prove alone 
Why all from all things never can proceed. 

Whence does the balmy rose possess the spring ? 
The yellow grain the summer? or, the vine 
With purple clusters, cheer th' autumnal hours ? 200 

Whence, true to time, if such primordial seeds 
Act not harmonious, can aught here surveyed, 
Aught in its season, rear its tender form, 
And the glad earth protrude it to the day ? 
But, if from nought things rise, then each alike, 205 

In every spot, at every varying mon'th, 
Must spring discordant ; void of primal seeds 
To check all union till th' allotted hour. 

Nor space for growth would then be needful : all 
Springing from nought, and still from nought supplied. 210 
The puny babe would start abrupt to man ; 
And trees umbrageous, crowned with fruit mature. 
Burst, instant, from the greensward. But such facts 
Each day opposes ; and, opposing, proves 
That all things gradual swell from seeds defined, 215 

Of race and rank observant, and intent 
T' evince th' appropriate matter whence they thrive. 

But matter thus appropriate, or e'en space 
For growth mature, form not the whole required. 
The timely shower from heaven must add benign 220 

Its influence too, ere yet the teeming earth 
Emit her joyous produce ; or, the ranks 
Of man and reptile, thence alone sustained. 
May spring to life, and propagate their kinds. 
Say rather, then, in much that meets the view, 225 

That various powers combine, concordant all, 
Common and elemental, as in words 
Such elemental letters, — than contend. 
That void of genial atoms, aught exists. 


Why formed not Nature man with ample powers 230 
To fathom, with his feet, th' unbottomed main ? 
To root up mountains with his mighty hands ? 
'Or live o'er lapsing ages victor still ? 
Why, but because primordial matter, fixt . 
And limited in act, to all is dealt 235 

Of things created, whence their forms expand. 
And hence again we learn, and prove express. 
Nought springs from nought, and that, from seeds precise, 
Whate'er is formed must meet th' ethereal day. 

Mark how the cultured soil the soil excels 240 

Uncultured, richer in autumnal fruits. 
Here, too, the latent principle of things, 
Freed by the plough, the fertile glebe that turns 
And subjugates the sod, exert their power, 
And swell the harvest : else, spontaneous, all 245 

Would still ascend by labour unimproved. 

And as from nought the genial seeds of things 
Can never rise, so Nature that dissolves 
Their varying forms, to nought can ne'er reduce. 

Were things destructible throughout, then all 250 

Abrupt would perish, passing from the sight ; 
Nor foreign force be wanting to disjoin 
Their vital parts, or break th' essential bond. 
But since, from seeds eternal all things rise. 
Till force like this prevail, vdth sudden stroke 255 

Crushing the living substance, or within 
Deep entering each interstice, to dissolve. 
All active, Nature no destruction views. 

Were time the total to destroy of all 
By age decayed, — say whence could Venus' self 260 

The ranks renew of animated life ? 
Or, if renewed, whence earth's dedalian power 
Draw the meet foods to nurture, and mature ? 
Whence springs and rivers, with perpetual course, 
The deep supply ? or, ether feed the stars ? 265 

Whate'er could perish, ever-during time, 
And rolling ages, must have long destroy 'd. 
But if, through rolling ages, and the lapse 
Of ever-during time, stiU firm at base. 
Material things have stood, then must that base 270 


Exist immortal, and the fates defj. 

Thus, too, the same efficient force applied 
Alike must all things rupture, if, within. 
No substance dwelled eternal to maintain 
In close, and closer, links their varying bonds. 275 

E'en the least touch, — for every cause alike 
Must break their textures, equal in effect. 
If no imperishable power opposed, — 
E'en touch were then irrevocable death. 
But since, with varying strength, the seeds within 280 

Adhere, of form precise, and prove express 
Their origin eternal, — free from ill. 
And undivided must those forms endure. 
Till some superior force the compact cleave. 
Thus things to nought dissolve not ; but, subdued, 285 
Alone return to elemental seeds. 

When, on the bosom of maternal Earth, 
His showers redundant genial Ether pours. 
The dulcet drops seem lost : but harvests rise. 
Jocund and lovely ; and, with foliage fresh, 290 

Smiles every tree, and bends beneath its fruit. 
Hence man and beast are nourished ; hence overflow 
Our joyous streets with crowds of frolic youth ; 
And with fresh songs th' umbrageous groves resound. 
Hence the herds fatten, and repose at ease, 295 

O'er the gay meadows, their unwieldy forms ; 
While from each full-distended udder drops 
The candid milk spontaneous ; and hence, too. 
With tottering footsteps, o'er the tender grass. 
Gambol their wanton young, each little heart 300 

Quivering beneath the genuine nectar quaffed. 

So nought can perish, that the sight surveys. 
With utter death ; but Nature still renews 
Each from the other, nor can form afresh 
One substance, till another be destroyed. 305 

But come, my friend, and, since the muse has sung 
Things cannot spring from, or return to nought. 
Lest thou should'st urge, still sceptic, that no eye 
Their generative atoms e'er has traced ; 
Mark in what scenes thyself must own, perforce, 310 

Still atoms dwell, though viewless still to sense. 


And, first, th' excited wind torments the deep ; 
Wrecks the tough bark, and tears the shivering clouds : 
Now, with wide whirlwind, prostrating alike 
O'er the waste champaign, trees, and bending blade ; 315 
And now, perchance, with forest-rending force. 
Rocking the mighty mountains on their base. 
So vast its fury ! — But that fury flows 
Alone from viewless atoms, that, combined, 
Thus form the fierce tornado, raging wild 320 

O'er heaven, and earth, and ocean's dread domain. 
As when a river, down its verdant banks 
Soft-gliding, sudden from the mountains round 
Swells with the rushing rain — the placid stream 
AU limit loses, and, with furious force, 325 

In its resistless tide, bears down, at once. 
Shrubs, shattered trees, and bridges, weak alike 
Before the tumbling torrent : such its power ! — 
Loud roars the raging flood, and triumphs still. 
O'er rocks, and mounds, and all that else contends. 330 
So roars th' enraged wind : so, like a flood. 
Where'er it aims, before its mighty tide. 
Sweeps all created things : or round, and round. 
In its vast vortex curls their tortured forms. — 
Though viewless, then, the matter thus that acts, 335 

Still there is matter : and, to Reason's ken, 
Conspicuous as the visual texture traced 
In the wild wave that emulates its strength. 

Next, what keen eye e'er followed, in their course. 
The light- winged odoubs ? or developed clear 340 

The mystic forms of cold, or heat intense ? 
Or sound through ether fleeting ? — ^yet, though far 
From human sight removed, by all confessed 
Alike material ; since alike the sense 
They touch impulsive ; and since nought can touch 345 
But matter ; or, in turn, be touched itself. 

Thus, too, the garment that along the shore, 
Lashed by the main, imbibes the briny dew. 
Dries in the sunbeam : but, alike unseen, 
Falls the moist ether, or again flies off 350 

£ntire, abhorrent of the red-eyed noon* 


So fine the attenuated spray that floats 
In the pure breeze ; so fugitive to sight. 

A thousand proofs spring up. The ring that decks 
The fair one's finger, by revolving years, 355 

Wastes imperceptibly. The dropping shower 
Scoops the rough rock. The plough's attempered share 
Decays : and the thick pressure of the crowd. 
Incessant passing, wears the stone-paved street. 
E'en the gigantic forms of solid brass, 360 

Placed at our portals, from the frequent touch 
Of devotees and strangers, now display 
The right hand lessened of its proper bulk. — 
All lose, we view, by friction, their extent ; 
But, in what time, what particles they lose, 365 

This envious Nature from our view conceals. 

Thus, too, both Time and Nature give to things 
A gradual growth : but never yet the sight 
That gradual growth explored ; nor marked their fall, 
Still gradual too, by age, or sure decay : 370 

Nor traced what portions of incumbent rock. 
Loaded with brine, the caustic wave dissolves. — 
So fine the particles that form the world. 

Yet not corporeal is the whole produced 
By Nature. In created things exists, 375 

Search where thou wilt, an incorporeal void. 
This mark, and half philosophy is thine. 
Doubtful no longer shalt thou wander : taught 
Th' entire of things, and by our verse convinced. 
And know this void is space untouched and pure. 380 

Were space like this vouchsafed not, nought could move : 
Corporeal forms would still resist, and strive 
With forms corporeal, nor consent to jrield ; 
While the great progress of creation ceased. 
But what more clear in earth or heaven sublime, 385 

Or the vast ocean, than, in various modes, 
That various matter moves ? which, but for space, 
'Twere vain t' expect: and vainer yet to look 
For procreative power, educing still 
Kinds from their kinds through all revolving time. 390 

True, things are solid deemed : but know that those 


Deemed so the most are rare and unconjoined. 

From rocks, and caves, translucent lymph distils, 

And, from the tough bark, drops the healing balm. 

The genial meal, with mystic power, pervades 395 

Each avenue of life ; and the grove swells, 

And yields its various fruit, sustained alone 

From the pure food propelled through root and branch. 

Sound pierces marble ; through reclusest walls 

The bosom-tale transmits : and the keen frost 400 

E'en to the marrow winds^ its sinuous way. — 

Destroy all vacuum, then, close every pore, 

And, if thou canst, for such events account. 

Say, why of equal bulk, in equal scale. 
Are things oft found unequal in their poise ? 405 

O'er the light wool the grosser lead prevails 
With giant force. But were th' amount alike 
Of matter each contained, alike the weight 
Would prove perpetual : for, from matter sole, 
Flows weight, and moment, ever prone to earth : 410 

While vacant space nor weight nor moment knows. 
Where things surpoise, then, though of equal bulk. 
There matter most resides : but where ascends 
The beam sublime, the rising substance holds 
A smaller share, and larger leaves the void. 415 

Hence draws the sage his creed : in all produced 
Finds vacuum still, and calls that vacuum space. 

But some there are such doctrines who deny : 
And urge in proof, deceptive, that we wave 
Not through imagined pores admits the race 420 

With glitt'ring scales — ^but yields at once, and opes 
The liquid path ; and occupies, in turn. 
The space behind the aureat fish deserts. 
Thus, too, that all things act : the spot possessed 
Exchanging sole, while each continues full. 425 

Believe them not. K nought of space the wave 
Give to its gilded tenants, how, resolve, 
Feel they the power t' advance ? and if t' advance 
They know not, how can, next, the wave thus yield ? — 
Or matter ne'er can move, then, or within 430 

Some VOID must mix through all its varjring forms, 
Whence springs alone the power of motion first. 


When force mechanic severs, and, abrupt, 
Drives two broad bodies distant, quick between 
Flows the light air, and fills the vacuum formed. 435 

But ne'er so rapid can the light air flow 
As to forbid all void ; since, step by step. 
It still must rush till the whole space be closed. ' 
Nor credit those who urge such bodies sole 
Can part because the liquid air, compress'd 440 

To closer texture, gives the needed space. 
Such feeble reas'ners, in opposing void, 
A double void confess : for, first, perforce, 
A void they own, where void was none before. 
Betwixt the substance severed ; and bring next 445 

A proof surmountless that the air itself 
Thronged with a prior void : else how, to bounds 
Of closer texture, could it e'er contract ? 

A thousand facts crowd round me : to the same 
Converging all. But ample these, I ween, 450 

Though but the footsteps of the mighty whole, 
To fix thy faith, and guide thee to the rest. 
For as the hound, when once the tainted dew 
His nostrils taste, pursues the vagrant fox 
O'er hills, and dales, and drags him from his lair ; 455 

So may'st thou trace from fact associate fact, i 

Through every maze, through every doubtful shade. 
Till Truth's bright form, at length, thy labours crown. 

Nor tardy be the toil, for much remains. 
So oft, O Memmius ! from the sacred fount 460 

By wisdom fed, so largely have I drank, 
And such the dulcet doctrines yet untold, 
That age may first unman us, and break down 
The purple gates of life, ere the bold muse 
Exhaust the boundless subject. Haste we, then, 465 

Each pulse is precious, haste we to proceed. 

Know, then, th' entire op nature sole consists 
Of SPACE and body : this the substance moved. 
And that the area of its motive power. 
That there is body, every sense we boast 470 

Demonstrates strong : and, if we trust not sense. 
Source of all science, then the mind itself. 
Perplexed and hopeless, must still wander on. 


In reasoning lost, to every doubt a prey. 

And were not space, were vacuum not allowed, 47o 

In nought could bodies, then, their powers display 

Of various action : each compressing each 

To motion fatal, as already sung. 

Nor is there aught such vacant space besides. 
And MATTER close-embodied, can be traced 480 

A substance forming discrepant from each. 
Search where thou wilt, whatever occurs to view. 
Of bulk minute, or large, though e'en its form 
Change with the hour, if tangible it prove. 
This stamps it matter, and forbids all doubt. 4S6 

But if intangible, throughout if still 
To matter pervious, act where'er it may, 
'Tis then void space, and can be nought besides. 

All things, moreo'er, a substance must evince 
Acting, or suffering act ; or, form the sphere 490 

In which to act or suffer. But to act. 
Or suffer action, must be matter's sole ; 
While SPACE alone that needed sphere admits. 

Nought, then, 'twixt space and matter can subsist 
Of INTERMEDIATE SUBSTANCE : nought be traced 495 

By keenest efforts of th' external sense, 
Or by the meditating mind deduced. 
All else we meet with or conceive but these 
Are mere conjunctions, or events attached. 
And know the learned by conjunctions name 500 

Those powers in each perpetual that inhere. 
And ne'er can part till void or matter cease* 
Thus heat to fire, fluidity to streams. 
Weight to the rock, to all of matter touch. 
And want of touch to space. While Discord, Peace, 505 
Oppression, Freedom, Poverty, and Wealth, 
And aught that else, of matter, and of space 
Lives independent, though engendered hence. 
Are termed, and justly, by the wise events. 

E'en TIME, that measures all things, of itself 5 10 

Exists not ; from the mind alone produced. 
As, link by link, contemplating minute. 
Things present, past, or future : for, of time. 


From these disjoined, in motion, or at rest 

Tranquil and still, what mortal can conceive? 515 

Thus spring events to birth. The rape renowned 
Of beauteous Helen, or the fall of Troy, 
Though deemed existences, yet of themselves 
Existed never : on material things. 

On place and persons acting, or coerced, 520 

Alone dependent. These revolving years 
Have long th' irrevocable doom assigned: 
And rape and conquest, as events that claimed 
From these existence, now exist no more. — 

Had ne'er been formed the matter, or the space, 525 

Whose power conjunctive gave those scenes to be ; 
No fire had e'er, from lovely Helen's eyes, 
Glanced through the bosom of the Trojan youth, 
And kindled the fierce flames of storied war : 
No giant horse the fell Achaian throngs 530 

Poured forth at night, subverting Prlaji's realm. 
Mark, then, how different facts exist and blend 
From void or matter ; and how justly termed 
Of place and body the derived events. 

Know, too, that bodies, in their frame consist, 535 

Part, of primordial atoms uncombined, 
And part combined and blending : these alone 
Pervious and rare ; while those so solid formed 
No force create can sever, or dissolve. 

Nor deem such solids doubtful : though so deemed 540 
By sages oft, who plausibly object 
That sound, that thunder, that the voice itself 
Breaks through domestic walls : that rigid steel 
Admits the blaze, and whitens : vitreous rocks 
Melt in the fierce volcano : gold and brass 545 

Forego their icy hardness, and alike 
Yield in the fiery conflict, and dissolve : 
That e'en the silver chalice, fiU'd with lymph 
Fervid or cold, unlocks its secret pores. 
And warms, at once, or chills th' embracing hand. 550 

Hence deem they matter pervious all, and void 
Of solid substance. But attend, benign, 
And, since right reason, and the frame of things 


Demand the verse, the muse shall briefly prove 

The seeds, the principles of matter all 555 

Both soUd, and eternal, whence alone 

Springs the stupendous fabric of the world. 

Of SPACE, of MATTER, as already sung, 
Th' ENTIRE of things consists, by nature formed 
Distinct and adverse ; and existing pure 560 

Each uncontrolled of each. Where matter dwells 
Void space can ne'er be found, nor matter found, 
Search where thou wHt, where space resides and reigns. 
As space is vacant then, material seeds 
Must solid prove, perforce, and free from void. 565 

Thus, too, as vacuum dwells in all produced. 
Some solid substance must that vacuum bound : 
Nor aught of vacuum can created things 
Be proved to enclose, if solids not exist. 
Whose power alone can such enclosures form. 570 

But solids must be matter ; the prime seeds 
Of all surveyed, harmonious in their act. 
And undecayed when all decays around. 

Were there no space, th' entire of things would prove 
One boundless solid : and were nought conceived 575 

Of viewless seeds, close Ailing, void of space. 
Each spot possest, all then were vacuum blank. 
Thus each from each, from matter space exists 
Distinct and clear : since never all is void. 
Nor ever full ; but this from that preserved 580 

By countless atoms acting though unseen. 
These, as already sung, no powers can pierce : 
O'er blows external, o'er each vain attempt 
Of penetrative solvents, or aught else 
Philosophy reveals, triumphant still. 585 

For nought can break, of vacuum all devoid. 
Or melt, or moulder, or within admit 
Vapour, or cold, or power of pungent heat. 
By which dissolves this fabric of the world. 
'Tis vacuum lays the base : as this exists, 590 

Augments, or lessens, things alone decay. 
What then is solid, and from vacuum free. 
Must undecayed, and still eternal live. 

Were matter not eternal, ages since 


AH had returned to nothing whence it sprang, 696 

And from that nothing all again revived. 

But since from nothing nought can ever rise. 

As proved ahove, nor aught to nothing shrink. 

Seeds there must be of ever-during date, 

To which, perpetual, things dissolve, or whence 600 

Flows the fresh pabulum that all repairs. 

But seeds thus simple must be solid too ; 

Else unpreserved through countless ages past, 

And useless to recruit th' exhausted world. 

Else friction, too, had injured : each by each 605 

Through myriad years abraded, and reduced. 
Till nought conceptible had lived to rear, 
Each in its time, the progenies of earth : 
For all is wasted easier than renewed. 
And hence, had all been thus disturbed, dissolved, 610 
And frittered through the long anterior lapse 
Of countless ages, future time in vain 
Would strive the ruined fragments to repair. 
But what more obvious than that bounds exist 
To matter decompounding, primal seeds 616 

To forms defined coercing ; since again 
All springs to birth, harmonious, kinds from kinds, * 
True to their times, and perfect in their powers ? 

Yet, though the principles of matter thus 
Prove firm and solid, its component forms, 620 

As air, earth, vapour, or translucent stream. 
May still be soft and pliant, as combined. 
E'en from their birth, with less, or larger void. 
But had those principles themselves been reared 
Pliant and soft, then whence the sturdy steel, 626 

The close-compacted flint, or aught besides, 
Of equal texture, traced through Nature's realm ? 
Thus simple solids must be still confest ; 
And all be soft, or rigid, as of these 
In more or less concentrate mode composed. 630 

To all has Nature given a bound precise 
Of being and perfection ; and promulged, 
To every varjdng rank, her varying laws ; 
Urging to this, from that restraining firm. 
Nought suffers change : the feathery tribes of heaven 635 


Bear, on their glossy plumes, through every class, 

The same fixt hues that first those classes stamped. 

Hence matter too, through all its primal seeds, 

Is proved immutable : for if, o'ercome 

By aught of foreign force, those seeds could change, 640 

All would be doubtful ; nor the mind conceive 

What might exist, or what might never live : 

Nor why, decide, such variance in their powers. 

And final terms of life, or instinct strong. 

Through every age, still urging every race 645 

To each pursuit, each action of their sires. 

Know, too, each seed, each substance is composed 
Of points extreme no sense can e'er detect : 
Points that, perforce, minutest of themselves. 
To parts can ne'er divide : nor self-educed, 650 

Nor, but as formed, existing, else destroyed. 
Parts such can hold not : each the first, pure part. 
Itself, of other substance : which, when joined 
Alone by kindred parts, in order due. 
Forms, from such junction, the prime seeds of things. 655 
But e'en such parts, though by the mind as parts 
Conceived, disjoined can ne'er exist ; and thence 
Adhere by firm, indissoluble bond. 

Thus seeds are simple solids, formed compact 
Of points extreme, that never can recede : 660 

Not lab'ring jointly to produce some end. 
But potent from simplicity alone. 
And hence eternal : equally unprone 
To waste or sever ; and by nature kept 
To feed the suffering fabric of the world. 665 

Did no such points exist, extreme and least. 
Each smallest atom would be, then, combined 
Of parts all infinite ; for every part 
Parts still would boast, dividing without end. 
And, say, what difference could there, then, subsist 670 
'Twixt large and small ? for though th' entire op things 
Should infinite be deemed, each smallest speck 
Still parts as infinite would hold embraced. 
But since at this the reasoning mind revolts. 
Then must it own, o'erpowered, that points exist 675 

Least by their nature, and of parts devoid : 


And solid, hence, and of eternal date. 

Hence seeds arise, the last, least parts conceived 
Of actual being : the extremest points 
To which creative Nature all resolves. 680 

Which, if not least, if still of parts possest, 
Could ne'er, with close exactitude, renew 
The universal frame : all, all would rise 
Of weight diverse, and ever varying form. 
Casual in tie, in motion undefined. 685 

Yet should we grant that matter, without end, 
For ever wastes ; e'en then, from earliest time, 
Some matter must have triumphed undecayed. 
Cohering still : but what can thus cohere, 
What brave the unnumbered repercussions felt 690 

Through ages now evolved, can ne'er decay : 
Alike the future conquering as the past. 

Hence those who deem the fabric of the world 
Educed from fire, itself the source of all. 
Far wander from the truth. Thus deemed the sage, 695 
Chief of his sect, and fearless in the fight. 
Famed Heraclitus ; by the leam'd esteemed 
Of doubtful phrase, mysterious ; but revered 
By crowds of Grecians, flimsy, and untaught. 
For such th' obscure applaud ; delighted most 700 

With systems dark, and most believing true 
The silver sounds that charm th' enchanted ear. 
But whence, I ask, if all from fire proceed 
Unmixed and simple, spring created things 
So various in their natures ? Urge not here 705 

That fire condenses now, and now expands ; 
For if the same, divided or entire. 
Its parts condensed a heat can only prove 
More fierce ; and less when rarefied, and thin. 
Still all is FIRE. Nor canst thou e'er conceive 710 

From fire that aught can spring but fire itself. 
Much less, in fire made dense alone, or rare, 
Trace the vast variance of created things. . 
Dense, too, and rare a vacuum must imply. 
As urged already; yet full well convinced 715 

What straits surround them if a void exist. 
Such sages doubt, but, doubting, still deny : 


Fearful of danger, yet averse from truth. 

Such, too, reflect not that from things create, 

Should void withdraw, the whole at once were dense, 720 

One solid substance all, and unempowered 

Aught from itself t' eject, as light, and smoke 

Flies from the purple flame ; evincing clear 

Its parts unsolid, and conmiixt with void. 

But should it still, perchance, be urged, that flres 725 

Perish by junction, and their substance change, 

Then must that changing substance waste to nought ; 

And thus from nought th' entire of nature spring. 

For what once changes, by the change alone 

Subverts immediate its anterior life. 730 

But still, victorious, something must exist, 

Or all to nought would perish ; and, in turn, 

From nought regerminate to growth mature. 

Yet though, most certain, things there are exist 
That never change, the seeds of all surveyed, 735 

Whose presence, absence, or arrangement new 
That ALL new-models, certain 'tis, alike. 
Those seeds can ne'er be fibe. For what avails 
Such absence, presence, or arrangement new 
Of igneous matter, if the whole throughout 740 

Alike be igneous ? Change howe'er it may. 
Through every variance all must still be flame. — 
Ask'st thou whence fire proceeds then ? As I deem, 
From certain seeds to certain motions urged, 
Or forms, or combinations ; which, when changed, 745 
Change too their nature ; and, though yielding fire, 
Not fire resembling, or aught else perceived 
By human sense, or tangible to touch. ^ 

To hold, moreo'er, as Heraclitus held. 
That all is fire, and nought besides exists 750 

Through Nature's boundless fabric, is to rave. 
T' oppose the mental sense, erroneous oft. 
To sense external, whence all knowledge flows. 
And whence himself first traced that flame exists. 
To sense he trusts, when sense discloses fire, 755 

And yet distrusts in things disclosed as clear. 
Can there, in man, be conduct more absurd ! — 
Where shall we turn us ? Where, if thus we fly 

322 LUCBETins. book l 

Those senses chief that sever true firom false ? — 
Why, rather, too, should all that else exists 760 

Be thus denied, and fire alone maintained, 

Than fire denied, and all maintained besides ? 

Tenets alike preposterous and wild. 

Hence those, in fire, who trace the rise of things. 

And nought but fire ; or those for aib who strive 765 

As source of all ; or those the dimpling streak 

Who fondly fancy ; or the ponderous eabtb, 

For each has armed its champions in its turn. 

Alike wide wander from unerring truth. 

Nor wanders less the sage who air with fire 770 

Would fain commix, or limpid stream with eabth ; 

Or those the whole who join, fire, ether, eakth^ 

And pregnant showers, and thence the world deduce. 

Thus suDg Empedocles, in honest fame 

First of his sect ; whom Agrigentum bore 775 

In cloud-capt Sicily. Its sinuous shores 

Th' Ionian main, with hoarse, unwearied wave. 

Surrounds, and sprinkles with its briny dew : 

And, from]the fair JEolian fields, divides 

With narrow frith that spurns the impetuous surge. 780 

Here vast Charybdis raves : here -^tna rears 

His infant thunders, his dread jaws unlocks. 

And heaven and earth with fiery ruin threats. 

Here many a wonder, many a scene sublime. 

As on he journeys, checks the traveller's steps ; 785 

And shows, at once, a land in harvests rich. 

And rich in sages of illustrious fame. 

But nought so wonderous, so illustrious nought, 

So fair, so pure, so lovely, can it boast, 

Empedocles, as thou ! whose song divine, 790 

By all rehearsed, so clears each mystic lore, 

That scarce mankind believed thee bom of man. 

Yet e'en Empedocles, and those above, 

Already sung, of far inferior fame. 

Though doctrines frequent from their bosoms flowed 795 

Like inspiration, sager and more true 

Than e'er the Pythian maid, with laurels crowned, 

Spoke from the tripod at Apollo's shrine ; 

E'en these mistook the principles of things. 


And greatly wandered in attempt so great. 800 

And, first, they deemed that motion might exist 

From VOID exempt : that things might still be rare, 

Still soften, as earth, ether, fire, or fruits. 

Or e'en the ranks of animated life, 

Though VOID commixed not with their varying frames. 805 

Then, too, they held no final term ordained 

To comminuting atoms : which, through time, 

Still crumbled on, and never could be least. 

Though from such points as sense itself surveys. 

Extreme and least, conjecture we may form 810 

Of points extreme, impalpable to sight. 

Least in themselves, that never can divide. 

With them, moreo'er, the seeds of things were formed 
Soft, and unsolid : but whate'er is soft. 
Whatever unsolid, as at first they spring 815 

From other substance, must perforce decay. 
So all to nought would perish, and again 
From nought regerminate to growth mature : 
Doctrines the muse already has disproved. 
Such seeds, too, must be foes ; created each 820 

To each adverse ; and hence can never meet 
But sure perdition waits : or, chance, they part, 
Disperst abrupt, as, in contending storms. 
Wind, rain, and thunder scatter, and are lost. 

But, from such four-fold foes, could all things spring, 825 
And, sprung, to such dissolve — why rather term 
Those jarring powers the primal seeds of things, 
Than things of them ? since, in alternate course. 
Each fiows from each : th' alternate form is seized, 
Th' alternate nature, through perennial time. 830 

Yet could'st thou deem such powers adverse might blend. 
And earth with fire, with ether lymph commix, 
And still retain their natures unimpaired ; 
Whilst thus retained, no living form could rise 
Traced through creation, animate, or void, 835 

As springs the verdant shrub, of reasoning soul. 
For each its nature, through the varying mass, 
Would still evince, and earth with air commix. 
In ceaseless strife, — and fire with crystal lymph. 
But primal seeds, whene'er the form of things 840 

Y 2 

324 LucsBTins. book l 

Mutual they gender, mast, perforce, assume 
An unobtrusive nature, close concealed. 
Lest aught superior rise, of power adverse^ 
And thus th' harmonious union be destroyed. 

Such sages, too, from heaven, imd heaven's bright fires 
Maintain that all proceeds : that fire drawn hence 846 

Converts to ether, ether into showersi 
And showers benign to earth : and hence again. 
That all from earth returns : first liquid dew. 
Then air, and heat conclusive ; changing thus^ 850 

In ceaseless revolution, changing thus 
From heaven to earth, from earth to heaven sublime : 
A change primordial seeds could ne'er sustain. 
So something still must, void of change, exist ; 
Or all would perish, all to nought return ; 856 

For what once changes, by the change alone 
Subverts immediate its anterior life. 
Since, then, as sung above, these all commute 
Each into each, some seeds must still be owned 
That ne'er can change, or all to nought would waste. 860 
Hold rather, then, such seeds exist, endowed 
With powers so curious that, as now combined. 
If fire they form, combine them but anew. 
Add, or deduct, give motion, or subtract. 
And all is air ; and changing thus, and changed, 865 

That things from things perpetual take their rise. 

Nor urge, still sceptic, that each hour displays 
All life protruded from the genial earth : 
Fed by the balmy air ; by heaven's own fire 
Matured ; and saved from pestilence and death 870 

Alone by showers benignant : and that hence 
Man, beast, and herbs alike exist, and thrive. 
The fact we own : we own from solid food, 
And crystal streams, man draws his daily breath. 
Of nerve, of bone, of being else deprived : 875 

But, owning, add, the compounds meet for man, 
For brute, for herbage, differ in their kind^ 
By different tastes discerned : and differ thus. 
And only thus, as formed from various seeds, 
To all things common, but in various modes 880 

Combined, and fitted to each rising want. 


Nor small of import are the modes diverse 

In which those seeds approach, recede, or blend : 

Since heaven, and earth, and suns, and seas immense. 

Herbs, instinct, reason, aU are hence derived : 885 

The mode but changed, the matter still the same. 

Thus, though the lines, these doctrines that recite. 

Flow from the same fixt elemental types. 

Yet line from line, in sense, in sound compared. 

Egregious differs. Re-arranged alone, 890 

Such the vast power by graphic types possest ! 

Start not when told, then, that the seeds of things 

Boast powers superior, and can all create. 

From such mistakes, detected and exposed. 
Now turn we : and in order next survey 895 

Those docrines first the Grecian schools imbibed 
From sapient Anaxagoras, by them 
Termed Homceomery ; a phrase ourselves. 
In tongue deficient, never can translate. 
But these its institutes : that bone from bones, 900 

Minute, and embryon, nerve from nerves arise. 
And blood from blood, by countless drops increased. 
Gold, too, from golden atoms, earths concrete 
From earths extreme ; from fiery matters fire. 
And lymph from limpid dew. And thus throughout 905 
From primal kinds that kinds perpetual spring. 
Yet void he granted not in aught create, 
Nor POINTS extreme that never can divide. 
In both erroneous, and with those deceived 
Classed in our numbers, and opposed above. 910 

Too feeble, too, the rudiments he chose, 
J£ rudiments they be, that hold, at once. 
The powers of things, and form the things themselves. 
All toil alike, and perish void of aid : 
For, when the hour of dissolution draws, 915 

Say, which- can baffle the dread fangs of death ? 
Can ether, lymph, or fire ? can nerve, or bones ? 
In each the strife were vain : since all produced, 
Surveyed, or viewless, impotent alike. 
Must yield to fate, and perish unredeemed. 920 

But things produced to nought can never fall. 
Or fallen, regerminate, as proved above. 


Food rears the body, and its growth sustains : 
But well we know its tendons, nerves, and blood. 
Hence all matured, are foreign and unlike. 925 

If, then, each food be compound, if commixt 
With miniatures of aU, of blood and nerve. 
Of bone and veins ; each food compact, or moist. 
Of parts unlike must then itself consist ; 
Of bone, of blood, of tendon, vein, and nerve. 930 

Thus all things spring from earth : but if in earth 
All lurk enveloped, earth of forms consists 
Strange, and discordant, panting for the day. 
Change still the picture, and the same still flows : 
In timbers, thus, if smoke, flame, ashes blend, 935 

Then, too, those timbers hostile parts comprise. 

But, here, the ready answer, framed of yore. 
By him, the founder of the system, springs: 
That, though in aU things all things lurk commixt, 
What most prevails, what boasts the largest share, 940 
Lies superficial, and is noticed chief. 
Fruitless remark, unsolid, and untrue. 
For still, at times, when crushed to dust minute 
Beneath the ponderous mill-stone's mighty orb 
The crumbling com with human blood must weep, 945 
Or aught besides of fluid found in man, 
' And stain with hues obscene : and still, at times. 
Each herb unfold the balmy milk so sweet. 
That swells the fleecy flock, or odorous kine. 
The furrowed glebe, the labouring plough beneath, 950 
Must, too, develope, in its secret womb, 
Plants, fruits, and foliage, oft dispersed, and hid : 
And, to the woodman, the cleft stock disclose 
With ashes smoke, and smoke commixt with fire. 
These, facts deny : in things things ne'er exist ; 955 

But seeds of things, in various modes arranged. 
Various themselves : whence rises all surveyed. 

But should'st thou urge that oft beneath the storm. 
When rubbed by many a repercussion rude, 
Branch against branch^ the forest's topmost height 960 
Has blazed from tree to tree ; the fact we grant : 
Not, with each trunk, that native fires combine ; 
But that perpetual friction quick collects 


Their seeds dispersed ; hence gathering ten-fold force, 

And flame engendering. For could fire itself 965 

A part constituent of the forest form, 

No hour could hide the mischief; every tree 

Would hlaze, and bum till boundless ruin reigned. 

See, then, as earlier sung, how much imports 
Th' arrangement, motion, magnitude, and form 970 

Of primal seeds combined : and how the same, 
Transposed but little, fuel quick convert 
To flame, bright blazing up the swarthy flue : 
As FLUE and fuel, terms of different sound. 
Of different sense, their letters but transposed, 975 

Each into each converts with magic speed. 

But should'st thou urge that all things still may flow 
From primal seeds, and yet those seeds possess 
The form, the nature of the things themselves ; 
The scheme falls self-destroyed. — For then, must seeds 980 
Hold powers adverse ; and laugh, and shake their sides, 
While tears of anguish down their cheeks distiL 

Come, now, and mark perspicuous what remains. 
Obscure the subject : but the thirst of fame 
Bums all my bosom ; and through every nerve 985 

Darts the proud love of letters, and the muse. 
I feel th' inspiring power ; and roam resolved 
Through paths Pierian never trod before. 
Sweet are the springing founts with nectar new ; 
Sweet the new flowers that bloom : but sweeter still 990 
Those -flowers to pluck, and weave a roseate wreath. 
The muses yet to mortals ne'er have deigned. 
With joy the subject I pursue ; and free 
The captived mind from Superstition's yoke. 
With joy th' obscure illume ; in liquid verse, 995 

Graceful, and clear, depicting all surveyed : 
By reason guided. For as oft, benign, 
The sapient nurse, when anxious to enforce 
On the pale boy, the wormwood's bitter draught, 
With luscious honey tints the goblet's edge, 1000 

Deceiving thus, while yet unused to guile, 
His unsuspecting, lip ; till deep he drinks. 
And gathers vigour from the venial cheat : 
So I, since dull the subject, and the world 


Abashed recoils, would fain, in honeyed phrase^ 1005 

Tuned by the muses, to thine ear recite 

Its vast concerns ; if haply I may hope 

To fix thine audience, wlule the flowing verse 

Unfolds the nature, and the forms of things. 

Taught then, ahready that material seeds 1010 

Are soHd, and o'er time triumphant live, 
Attend, benignant, while we next decide 
Their number, or if infinite ; and tell, 
Since void throughout exists, assigning space 
For place and motion, if th' entire of things 1015 

Be bounded, or unfathomed, and immense. 

Th' ENTIRE of things, then, bounds can never know : 
Else parts possest of farthest and extreme. 
But parts can only be extreme, beyond 
Where other substance springs, those parts extreme 1020 
Binding, though sense the limit ne'er can trace. 
If, then, some other substance rise, the first 
Forms not th' entire of things. Whate'er it be 
That other substance still must part compose. 
Vain too is distance : the vast Whole alike 1025 

To all extends, embracing, and embraced. 

Yet grant th' entire of things of bound possest 
Say, to what point shall yon keen archer, placed 
E'en on its utmost verge, his dart direct ? 
Shall aught obstruct it, or the path be clear ? 1030 

Take which thou wilt : some substance choose, possest 
Of power t' impede, and check its rapid race : 
Or let it fly unconquered, nor restraint 
E'en once encounter : thou must still confess 
Th' entire of nature nought of limit knows. 1035 

Throughout the dart I'll chase ; and when, at length, 
Th' acceded bound is gained. 111 still demand 
What yet obstructs it ; still new proofs adduce 
That the vast whole is boundless ; and that flight 
Still beyond flight for ever might be urged. 1040 

Were, too, th' entire of nature thus conflned. 
Thus circumscribed precise, from its own weight 
Long since, all matter to the extremest depth 
Had sunk supine : nor aught the skies beneath. 
Nor skies themselves, with countless stars adorned 1045 


And sun's unsuffering splendour, had remained. 

Down, down th' accumulated mass had fallen 

From earliest time, devoid of power to rise. 

But nought of rest supine material seeds 

Evince through nature ; since no depth exists 1050 

Extreme, and fathomable where those seeds 

Might fix collected in inert repose. 

All, all is action : the vast whole alike 

Moves in each part ; and, from material seeds. 

Draws, undiminished, its eternal food. 1065 

Things, to the sense, are circumscribed by things. 
Air bounds the hills, and hills the liquid air : 
Earth ocean, ocean earth : but the vast whole 
What fancied scene can bound ? O'er its broad realm, 
Immeasured, and immeasurably spread, 1060 

From age to age resplendent lightnings urge. 
In vain their flight perpetual ; distant, stiU, 
And ever distant from the verge of things. 
So vast the space on opening space that swells. 
Through every part so infinite alike. 1065 

Ask thy own reason. It will prove at once 
Th' ENTIRE of nature never can have bounds. 
Void must perforce bound matter, matter void ; 
Thus mutual, one illimitable whole 

Forming for ever. For were each of each 1070 

Free and unshackled, uncombined, and pure 
In their own essence, not one short-lived hour 
Could earth, or ocean, the refulgent fane 
Of heaven sublime, or mortal forms, or those 
The gods themselves inhabit, then subsist. 1075 

Freed from all order, disarranged, and rude. 
Through boundless vacuum the drear mass of things 
Would quick be borne : or, rather, nought had risen 
From the crude chaos, joyless, and inert. 
For never, doubtless, firom result of thought, 1080 

Or mutual compact, could primordial seeds 
First harmonize, or move with powers precise. 
But ever changing, ever changed, and vext, 
From earliest time, through ever-during space, 
With ceaseless repercussion, every mode 1085 

Of motion, magnitude, and shape essayed ; 


At length th' unwieldy mass the form assumed 

Of things created. Persevering, thus, 

Through many an age, unnumhered springs the deep 

Feed with perpetual tides : hy the warm sun 1090 

Sustained, and cherished, earth renews her fruits, 

And man, and heast survive ; and ether glows 

With Hving lights innum'rous : scenes throughout 

Twere vain t' expect, from all eternal time. 

Had no primordi^ seeds, in stores immense, 1095 

Been ever nigh to renovate the world. 

For as, of food deprived, the languid frame 

Of man must perish, so th* entire of things 

Must instant cease, should once primordial seeds 

Their aid withhold, or deviate in their course. 1 100 

Nor deem from mutual impulse, things with things 

Can sole their forms preserve ; th' eternal seeds 

May, hence, he oft restrained, and e'en perchance^ 

Their flight delayed, till, from th' exhaustless store. 

Fresh seeds drrive the fainting frame to feed : 1 105 

But from concussion, frequent, they rehound, 

Dissolve all tie, and leave to transient rest 

The common matter whence each suhstance springs. 

Hence must incalculahle seeds exist 

Ceaseless in act ; and the vast whole derive 1110 

Alone from houndless matter impulse due. 

But fly, O Memmius, fly the sect deceived. 
Who teach that things, with gravitation firm. 
To the vast centre of th' entire, alike, 
Unerring press : the world who fain would prove 1115 
Void of external impulse, may subsist, 
And nought its post desert, profound, or high. 
Since of such gravitating power possest. 
For canst thou deem that aught may thus sustain, 
And poise itself? that aught of solid weight, 1120 

Placed at earth's utmost depth, could upwards strive 
Reversed ; and to the surface — (in the stream 
As spreads the downwards shadow) — still adhere ? 
For thus such sages hold : thus man, and beast 
Subsist, they teach, inverted, earth beneath : 1 125 

From their firm station, down their deeper skies 
As unexposed to fall, as towards the heavens 


Ourselyes to mount sublime : by them the sun, 

When night to us unfolds his stars, surveyed ; 

And equ^ measuring, in alternate course, 1130 

With us, their months, their darkness, and their day. 

Such are the specious fancies error feigns. 

In idle hour, to minds perverse and vain. 

Where all is infinite, what spot precise 

Can e'er be central ? or were centre owned, 1 135 

Why towards such spot should matter rather tend, 

Than elsewhere more remote, and deeper still ? 

For vacant space, through every part alike. 

Central or not, must yield to things compact. 

And ponderous, as their varying weight compels ; 1140 

Nor through the boundless void one point exists 

Where things may rest, as if of weight deprived. 

No power it boasts t' uphold ; but still recedes. 

As Nature prompts, and opes the needed path. 

Hence, by the love alone of centre struck, 1145 

Th' harmonious frame of things could ne'er be formed. 

Moreo'er such sages urge not that the whole 
Strives towards the centre equal ; but terrene 
Alone, and fluid matters ; tlie deep main, 
The mountain cataract, and the forms produced 1150 

From earth Dedalian : while the breezy air. 
And the light flame, far from such centre stray, 
Through ether trembling, and, with lambent fire. 
Feeding, through time, the sun's refulgent blaze ; 
As feeds maternal earth the myriad forms 1 155 

Of herbs, and trees, and animated life. 
From her own bosom nurtured, and sustained. 
Thus, too, they teach that heaven, with bound subUme, 
Encircles all things, lest the world's wide walls. 
And all enveloped, volatile as flame, 1 160 

Burst every bond, and dissipate, and die : 
Lest heaven in thunders perish, and below 
The baseless earth forsake us, downward urged : 
And loose, and lifeless, man's disseVring frame, 
Mixt with the rushing wreck of earth, and skies, 1165 
Waste through all space profound ; till nought remain, 
Nought, in a moment, of aU now surveyed, 
But one blank void, one mass of seeds inert. 



For once to act, when primal atoms fail, 

Fail where they may, the doors of death are ope, 1170 

And the vast whole unbounded ruin whelms. 

These subjects if, with trivial toil, thou scan. 
Each, each illuming, midnight shall no more 
Thy path obstruct ; but Nature's utmost depths 
Shme as the day : so things irradiate things. 1175 

BOOK n. 

How sweet to stand, when tempests tear the main. 

On the firm cliff, and mark the seaman's toil ! 

Not that another's danger soothes the soul. 

But from such toil how sweet to feel secure ! 

How sweet, at distance from the strife, to view 5 

Contending hosts, and hear the clash of war ! 

But sweeter far on Wisdom's height serene. 

Upheld by Truth, to fix our firm abode ; 

To watch the giddy crowd that, deep below. 

For ever wander in pursuit of bliss ; 10 

To mark the strife for honours, and renown. 

For wit and wealth, insatiate, ceaseless urged. 

Day after day, with labour unrestrained. 

O wretched mortals ! — race perverse and blind ! 
Through what dread dark, what perilous pursuits, 15 

Pass ye this round of being ! — know ye not 
Of all ye toil for Nature nothing asks. 
But for the body freedom from disease. 
And sweet, unanxious quiet, for the mind ? 

And little claims the body to be sound : 20 

But little serves to strew the paths we tread 
With joys beyond e'en Nature's utmost wish. 
What though the dome be wanting, whose proud walls 
A thousand lamps irradiate, propt sublime 
By frolic forms of youths in massy gold, 25 

Flinging their splendours o'er the midnight feast : 
Though gold and silver blaze not o'er the board. 


Nor music echo round the gaudy roof? 

Yet listless laid the velvet grass along 

Near gliding streams, by shadowy trees o'er-arched, ^30 

Such pomps we need not ; such still less when spring 

Leads forth her laughing train, and the warm year 

Paints the green meads with roseat flowers profuse. 

On down reclined, or wrapped in purple robe, 

The thirsty fever bums with heat as fierce 35 

As when its victim on a pallet pants. 

Since, then, nor wealth, nor splendour, nor the boast 
Of birth illustrious, nor e'en regal state 
Avails the body, so the free-bom mind 
Their aid as little asks. Unless, perchance, 40 

The warlike host thou deem, for thee arrayed 
In martial pomp, and o'er the fiery field 
Panting for glory ; and the gorgeous fleet. 
For thee unmoored, and ardent, — can dispel 
Each superstitious terror ; from the breast 45 

Root out the dread of death, and lull to peace 
The cares, the tumults that distract thy soul. 
But if all this be idle, if the cares. 
The TERRORS still that haunt and harass man. 
Dread not the din of arms — o'er kings and chiefs 50 

Press unabashed, unawed by glittering pomp. 
The purple robe unheeding — canst thou doubt 
Man pants for these from poverty of mind, 
Wandering in darkness, and through life misled ? 

For as the boy, when midnight veils the skies, 55 

Trembles, and starts at all things, so, full oft, 
E'en in the noon men start at forms as void 
Of real danger as the phantoms false 
By darkness conjured, and the school-boy's dread. 
A terror this the radiant darts of day 60 

Can ne'er disperse : to trath's pure fight alone. 
And wisdom yielding, intellectual suns. 

Come, then, and mark how seeds primordial form 
Created things, and how, when formed, dissolve : 
Their force, their action, whence, and power to move, 65 
Pass, and repass, through all th' immense of space : 
Benign attend, while thus the muse explains. 

Doubtless no substance boasts a bond within 


IndiBSoluble, since each gradual wastes, 

And, in the lapse of time, flies off entire, 70 

By age o'erpowered. Yet the great mass of things 

Still meets the view uninjured, from the stores 

Sustained of primal atoms. These, as oft 

Their punctual flight they take, each form decrease, 

And, as they join, augment : hence things attain 75 

Their growth mature, and thence their sure decay. 

Thus, void of rest, the changeful world renews. 

And man on man lives mutual ; nations thus 

Flourish, or fade ; a few brief years roll round. 

And sire to son, through every reasoning rank, 80 

Yields, like a racer o'er the busy course. 

His lamp of life, and instant disappears. 

Who deems primordial atoms e'er can rest. 
And, resting, urge through matter motion still. 
Far wanders from the truth. Primordial seeds, 85 

Through space unfathomed as their flight they wing. 
From their own gravitating power must pass, 
Or blows extrinsic ; each o'er each, alike. 
Casual prevails : for oft the mass of seeds 
That prone descends, with seeds repugnant meet 90 

In contest tough, and distant far rebound. 
Nor wondrous this, of firmest texture formed. 
And nought t' obstruct the retro-cursive flight 
And though thou trace the seeds unequal heaped 
Of primal matter, still, reflect, th' entire 95 

Knows nought of bottom, nought of spot profound 
Where they may rest collected : space throughout 
Boundless exists, as, in our earlier verse. 
Decisive proved, on every side immense. 

Since, then, primordial seeds through space profound 
Repose can never know : but rather, urged 101 

To ceaseless motions, varying and adverse. 
By the rude conflict part far off" rebound. 
And part with speed unite, the severing blow 
Surmounted soon. Hence those, through trivial space 105 
Briefly repelled, the vigorous bond scarce broke. 
With quick reunion intertwining strong, 
Form the rude base of flints, and rigid steel. 
And matters firm alike.: while those beyond. 


Far wandering through the void, of feebler link 110 

Mutual possest, the liquid air create, 

And the pure light the sun perpetual pours. 

Nor these the whole compose. For seeds there are 
That through the boundless void for ever stray, 
Of social bond abhorrent, and in turn 115 

Refused all compact in the frame of things : 
Not unresembling, if aright I deem, 
Those motes minute that, when th' obtrusive sun 
Peeps through some crevice in the shuttered shade, 
The day-dark hall illuming, float amain 120 

In his bright beam, and wage eternal war. 
There may'st thou view them, now in crowds combine, 
Now part discordant, o'er the restless scene 
Urging the pigmy battle ; and may'st hence 
Learn what vast contests oft mid primal seeds, 125 

Ceaseless, prevail, through boundless space propelled. 
Thus things minute instruct us, and unfold 
The laws, at times, of things momentous most. 

Such motes, moreo'er, and let the sage remark 
Impress thy judgment, agitated thus 130 

In the pure sun -beam, from the strife alone 
Prove, in their primal seeds, some motion lurks 
Unseen, and secret, whence the pigmy mass 
Draws motion first. For oft the curious eye 
Sees the light goss, by viewless force subdued, 135 

Turn from the path selected, backwards urged. 
Now here, now there, through every point propelled. 
Such the perplexing power of primal seeds. 

From seeds all motion springs ; by impulse hence 
Through molecules minute of seeds conjoined, 140 

Nearest in power, protruded, though unseen. 
Hence urged again, in turn, through things create 
Of ampler form, till soon the sense itself 
The congregated action marks distinct. 
As in the lucid beam's light woof we trace 145 

Still motion visual, though unseen its source. 

Nor small the motive power of primal seeds. 
This, Memmius, should'st thou doubt, we thus confirm : ' 
When firstyAurora, o'er the dewy earth. 
Spreads her soft light, and through the pathless grove 150 


A thousand songsters ope their liquid throats^ 

All ether charming — sudden we survey 

Th' effusive sun, as with a garment, deck 

With his own radiance all created things ; 

Instant in speed, unbounded in his blaze. 165 

But the bright fluid, the pure stream he throws, 

Flows not without resistance ; many a wave. 

Through space profound, ethereal checks its flight ; 

And many a self-engendered power perverse, 

Beared from its complex frame : perpetual hence 160 

Lags the light fluid, doomed to double strife. 

But primal atoms. Arm and solid sole 

From pure simplicity, when through void space 

Free and unchecked their easy course they wing. 

One in themselves, at once their goal attain. 165 

Hence than the rapid light more rapid still 

Rush they, in equal hour through ampler space 

Urged, than the beams that gild the glowing vault. 

No pause for council need they, no delay. 

Nor deep research to sever right from wrong, 170 

Or prove what path their duty bids pursue. 

Yet some there are, untaught, who dare contend 
Primordial matter ne'er without the gods 
Thus, in nice symmetry, to please mankind. 
Could form th' alternate seasons, rear the fruits 175 

That gladden life, or urge those gentler joys, 
Gray Pleasure, guide and goddess of the world, 
Prompts in the panting breast, lest every* tribe 
Should fail on earth, the rites of Venus spurned. 
These from the gods, as sovereign cause of all, 1 80 

Such sophists trace, wide wandering from the truth. 
For, though the rise of things I ne'er could prove, 
Yet dare I, from the heaven's defective frame, 
And many a scene alike perverse, affirm 
No power divine this mass material reared 185 

With ills so pregnant. This, in order due, 
The muse shall full demonstrate : turn we now 
To what of motion yet remains unsung. 

And here, O Menmiius ! mark this precept well ; 
That nought corporeal, of itself, can e'er 190 

Ascend sublime through regions urged above. 


Nor let th' aspiring flame, with specious boast, 

Heedless deceive thee. True, with upward flight, 

E'en from the first, its spreading spires unfold ; 195 

And fruits and plants their growth still upwards urge. 

Yet as the weight by all possest, below 

Drives all things, deem not thou, when the bright blaze 

Flames through th' aflrighted house, the crackHng roof 

Tumbling precipitate, then deem not thou 200 

It mounts spontaneous but from foreign force. 

Thus, from the wounded vein, the vital blood 

Ascends, and pours its purple strength sublime : 

And springs not thus the ponderous trunk immersed 

In the clear stream, rejected by the wave ? 205 

Though deep we plunge it, with redoubled force 

Still back it bounds, and, o'er th' elastic tide. 

Rears half its solid bulk. Yet doubt we not. 

Spite of such facts, that all things, uncontrolled, 

Through space tend downward. From control alone 210 

The lambent flame thus mounts, towards heaven impelled. 

Else prone from native weight. Falls not, at night. 

The mimic star^ the meteor trailing long 

Its line of fire, whene'er, amid the gloom, 

Th' elastic ether opes the needed path ? • 215 

The mid-day sun flings down his rays direct 

And sows the fields with light : and the dread flash, 

When thunder rends the skies, though wide it dart. 

Now here, now there, amid the rushing rain. 

Its forky fires — spends its chief strength on earth. 220 

This, too, regard intent ; that primal seeds. 
When down direct their potent path they urge. 
In time uncertain, and uncertain space, 
Oft from the right decline — yet so minute 
Veer they, no fancy less can e'er conceive. 225 

Without this devious curve primordial seeds 
Would drop successive, like the crystal shower, 
Void of all contest, all re-active blow. 
Whence Nature sole her world of wonders works. 

If, then, there be, who deem the seeds of things 230 
More ponderous, as their rectilinear course 
Speeds through the void, the lighter soon may reach, 
Aiid thus the repercussive war commeuoe, — 


Far err they from the truth. For though, when urged 

Through the pure air, or clear translucent wave, 235 

Doubtless, all ponderous forms more swift descend ; 

This, from the variance of resistance sole, 

Flows, by such fluids formed 'gainst things unlike. 

The grosser quick o'erpowering. But pure space. 

In every part, in every hour the same, 240 

Throughout resists not, the demanded path 

Yielding submissive. Hence, in equal time, 

Through the blank void, unequal weights descend 

Of every fancied variance : and hence, too, 

The grosser ne'er the lighter urged below 245 

Can gain, triumphant ; or the contest rouse 

Whence spring new motions, and all nature lives. 

Hence doubly flows it why the seeds of things 

Should from the right decline ; yet, in degree. 

The least conceptibly, lest we should deem 250 

The line oblique which Nature ne'er assumes. 

For nought more obvious, as the sight confirms. 

Than that all weights, their downward course at will 

Steering, obliquely never can descend ; 

But what keen sight of man can prove precise 255 

That the swift cadence ne'er declines at all ? 

Had all one motion uniform, the new 

Th' anterior skilful copying, if throughout 

Primordial seeds declined not, rousing hence 

Fresh springs of action, potent to subvert 260 

The bonds of fate, and break the rigid chain 

Of cause on cause, eternal, — whence, resolve, 

Flows through the world this freedom of the mind ? 

This power to act, though fate the deed forbid. 

Urged by the will alone ? The free-born mind 265 

Acts, or forbears, spontaneous ; its own time, 

Its place, alike uncertain : these the will. 

Doubtless, alone determines, and, at once. 

Flies the fleet motion through th' assenting frame. 

Dost thou not see, as down the barrier drops * 270 

That reins the racer, instant though he dart, 

Not half so instant darts he as liis soul 

Ambitious covets ? Deep through all his frame 

Th' elastic nerves must first the wish convey 


Ere yet the consentaneous flight succeed. 275 

Hence, obvious, springs all motion from the heart, 

Boused by the mind's resolve, and instant urged 

Through every nerve, through every quivering limb. 

A force far different this than e'er prevails 

When aught without coerces. Passive, then, 280 

Bends all the frame th' extrinsic power beneath. 

Borne down reluctant ; till th' awakening will 

Unchains each member, and resumes her right. 

For oft, though foreign force, with tyrant sway. 

Rule us, resistless, headlong hurrying down— 285 

Say — ^lurks no adverse something in the breast 

Proud to withstand ? full oft, at whose control. 

Swift flows the nervous tide from limb to limb. 

Bursting each bond — and, oft, as swift retires ? 

Hence firm maintain we primal seeds some cause 290 

Must feel of rising motion unbestowed . 

By weight, or blow reactive, whence alone 

Upsprings this secret power by man possest : 

Nought forming nought, as reason proves precise. 

For weight forbids the credence that alone 295 

Things by reaction move ; yet, lest the mind 

Bend to a stern necessity within, 

And, like a slave, determine but by force,— 

Though urged by weight, in time, in place unflxt, 

Each primal atom trivial still declines. 300 

Nor interstitial more, nor more compact. 
Was e'er this frame of matter ; nor augment 
Primaeval seeds, nor e'er admit decay. 
Hence every movement in anterior time 
That e'er subsisted, still subsists the same, 305 

And will through endless ages : all begot. 
Begotten must be, punctual to their kinds. 
Exist, increase, and perish ; following firm 
The laws by Nature framed ; nor aught of power. 
Act where it may, can change th' entire of things. 310 
For nought expands of spot where primal seeds 
From the vast whole may fly ; or e'er afresh. 
Armed with new powers, re-enter, adverse thus 
To Nature's plans, disorganizing all. 

Nor this stupendous, that, though primal a^^^ '^^^^ 

z 2 


MoTe on incessant, and, throogfa different farms. 

Boose different actions, the vast whole to sense 

Bests undisturbed. For far bejond all ken. 

Lies the prime base impalpable of things. 

As this elndes all vision, so, alike, 320 

Its motion too elude. E'en oft the sight 

No motion marks where still the moving scene 

Springs obvious, bj the distance sole concealed. — 

The fleecy flocks, o'er yonder hill that browse 

From glebe to glebe, where'er, impearled with dew, 325 

The jocund clover cdls them, and the lambs 

That round them gambol, saturate with milk. 

Proving their frontlets in the mimic fray — 

Press, at this distance, on the sight confused. 

One white mass forming o'er the verdant steep. 330 

Thus, too, when warlike squadrons crowd the field. 

Horrent in arms, with horses scarce restrained. 

Shaking the solid glebe, while the bright pomp 

Flames through the skies, and gilds the glowing earth. 

While groans the ground beneath their mighty tread, 335 

And hills and heavens re-echo to their shouts — 

Viewed from afar, the splendid scene that spreads 

Seems void of motion, to the fields affixt. 

Ck>me now, my friend, and, next, perspicuous mark 
What countless shapes primordial seeds assume, 340 

How vast their variance : for, though myriads swarm 
Of equal figures, oft unlike they meet. 
Nor wondrous this, since, such th' abundance formed. 
No bounds can chain, no numbers e'er compute. « 

Hence, not unfrequent, each from each, through space, 345 
Musjb meet diverse, unkindred in their frames. 

Thus Nature varies ; man, and brutal beast, 
And herbage gay, and silver fishes mute. 
And all the tribes of heaven, o'er many a sea. 
Through many a grove that wing, or urge their song 350 
Near many a bank of fountain, lake or rill, 
Search where thou wilt, each differs in his kind, 
In form, in figure differs. Hence alone. 
Knows the fond mother her appropriate young, 
Th* appropriate young their mother, 'mid the brutes, 355 
As clear discerned as man's sublimer race. 


Thus oft before the sacred shrine, perfumed 

With breathing frankincense, th' affrighted calf 

Pours o'er the altar, from his breast profound, 

The purple flood of life. But wandering wild 360 

0*er the green sward, the dam, bereft of hope. 

Beats with her cloven hoof th' indented dale, 

Each spot exploring, if, perchance, she still 

May trace her idol ; through th' umbrageous grove, 

With well-known voice, she moans ; and oft re-seeks, 36^ 

Urged by a mother's love, the accustomed stall. 

Nor shade for her, nor dew-distended glebe. 

Nor stream soft gliding down its banks abrupt, 

Yields aught of solace ; nor the carking care 

Averts, that preys within ; nor the gay young 370 

Of others soothe her o'er the joyous green : 

So deep she longs, so lingers for her own. 

Thus equal known, thus longed for, seek, in turn, 

The tender heifer, tremulous of voice. 

And the gay bleating lamb, their homed dams, 375 

Lured by the milky fount that nurtures life. 

The com, moreo'er, the yellow harvest yields, 
Matures not all alike ; — e'en the same kind 
In size oft varying to the curious eye. 
Thus vary, too, th' enamelled shells, that paint 380 

The bending shore ; whose thirsty sands drink deep 
The main's soft waves, redundant rolled along. 
Hence doubly flows it why the seeds of things, 
Compact by nature, by mechanic art 
Shaped not to one fixt model, each from each 385 

Should differ oft in figure through the void. 
Illumined thus, the mind with ease decides 
Why heaven's electric flash a subtler power 
Boasts, than the flame by torches fed below : 
That formed than this of atoms finer far, 390 

Triumphant piercing many a pore minute 
By the dull taper's blaze essayed in vain. 

Light, the clear glass pervades, while lymph recoils : 
Whence springs the difference, but that subtler seeds 
Bear the bright sun-beam than the fountain form ? 395 
Free through the strainer flows the sparkling wine, 
While the slow oil hangs heavy : in its course 


Checked, or by atoms of a grosser frame, 

Or more perplexed, and tangled ; each from each 

Hence severing tardy, and, with toil extreme, 400 

Transuding separate through th' attenuate lawn. 

Thus vary tastes : and while the dulcet draught 
Of milk or honey charms the enchanted lip, 
The wormwood straight convulses, by the tongue 
Abhorred, and writhing every sapid nerve. 405 

Hence may'st thou learn those seeds that rouse, combined, 
A joyous flavour, round exist, and smooth ; 
While those that form the bitter, and austere, 
Are hook'd, or jagged, and their path propel ^ • 

Alone by wounding, hostile to the sense. 410 

Thus all things live ; from primal atoms reared 
Of shape diverse, as deep within they ope 
Some secret source of pleasure or of pain. 
So deem not thou the saw's discordant scream. 
Horrid, and harsh, flows from the same smooth seeds 415 
That wake the strain mellifluous, when the fair, 
With flying fingers, sweeps th' accordant lyre. 
Nor deem those atoms like, from putrid scenes 
That spring malignant, and the essential sweets 
Breathed from Cilician saffron, or the blaze 420 

Of fragrant altars fed from orient groves. 
Nor canst thou form from the same source those hues, 
On which the vision feeds with fond delight. 
And those abhorred, and hideous, or the germs 
Pungent and keen, that rouse the sight to tears. 425 

'Twere vain t' attempt : for all the soul that wakes 
To various pleasure, boasts a base rotund ; 
While pain but springs from atoms hook'd and harsh. 

Yet seeds there are between ; not smooth complete. 
Nor deeply jagged, but with angles shaped 430 

Just peeping o'er the surface. These the nerves 
Pain not, but titillate ; a sense perceived 
When sweets with bitters, sours with sweets combine. 
As oft in sauces, catered to the taste 
From the pale inula, or grape's soft grounds. 435 

But fires and frosts spring different ; from a base 
Unlike indented, though indented each. 
This if thou doubt, the touch shall quick decide. 


For TOUCH, O TOUCH ! ye powers of heaven supreme I 
Touch forms the genuine sense whence chief we trace 440 
Whatever without insinuates, or within 
Springs up innate, injurious in th' escape, 
Or, like the genial tide by Venus roused. 
Pregnant with pleasure ; or, perchance, the frame 
Affecting inly, as th' essential seeds 445 

Collect tumultuous, urged to civil strife. 
A feeling, this, full oft educed amain 
Whene'er th' uplifted palm, from sport or ire. 
Lets fall its vengeance o'er the reddening cheek. 
Hence, from effects so various, various too 450 

Must be the forms to primal seeds assigned. 

There are, moreo'er, that hard exist, and dense ; 
From atoms, these, more crook'd and clinging spring, 
Like tangled branches intertwined throughout. 
Such, mid the foremost, shines the diamond's blaze, 455 
Fearless of insult, such the valid flint, 
The steel's enduring vigour, and the brass 
Discordant creaking from the public gates. 
While those, reversed, a fluent power that boast 
Swell into birth from seeds rotund, and smooth, 460 

Unlinked th' essential globules, and with ease 
Poured headlong down, dissevering as they fall. 
Those, too, that quick fly off, as clouds or smoke, 
Or lambent flame, if not from seeds educed 
Hotund, and polished, doubtless, in their make 465 

Nought know perplext, or hook'd, since armed with power 
To pierce the Parian marble, nor to view 
Cohering equal, like th' embracing brier : 
Not jagged, but pointed, hence, the base they own. 

Nor wondrous this ; that things of fluent frame 470 

As the broad ocean, oft should strike the sense 
With taste unlovely ; for, though round and smooth 
The genial atoms whence all fluids flow, * 
Still, seeds discordant oft will intermix. 
Rough, though globose, and by the tongue abhorred, 475 
Though fltted still the fluent mass to form. 
This to confirm, to prove with polished seeds 
Seeds harsh full oft combine, whence springs alone 
The main's disflavour — from the briny wave 


The nauseous mass subtract, and all is sweet. 480 

Thus Nature acts : through many a thirsty sand 

The surge she filters, i^shening in its course. 

Till freed, at length, from every acrid power, 

Tangled, and fixt behind, the dulcet lymph 

Resprings to view, a calm and lucid pool. 485 

This proved, what follows, as a truth derived, 
But that the forms of seeds, though varying much. 
Ne'er vary endless ; not imfrequent, else. 
Full many a seed must boast a bulk immense : 
For many a difiering figure ne'er can lurk 490 

In things minute. Deem, then, primordial seeds 
Three fancied parts comprise, or grant e'en more, 
Invert their order, let the right be left. 
Depress the loftiest, the profound exalt, — 
Soon will the pigmy mass exhaust complete 495 

Its tiny change of figures : would'st thou, then, 
Augment the variance, thou must add, perforce, 
New primal matter, hence augmented sole. 
Thus from fresh forms increase of size must flow 
Perpetual ; nor the seeds of things in shape 500 

Can differ endless, or e'en once evince 
A bulk immense, as erst the Muse has proved. 

Already else the purple woof superb 
Of Meliboea, robbing for its dye 

The Syrian coasts, — already, dropt with gold, 505 

The peacock's laughing plumage else had sunk 
By gaudier hues o'erpowered. The balmy myrrh. 
The luscious honey never more had urged 
A boast unrivalled ; e'en the swan's soft dirge 
Had ceased, and Ph(ebus dropt his liquid lyre : 510 

All things o'er all prevailing undefined. 

Thus those by sense abhorred, as these beloved. 
To more abhorred would yield ; each still o'er each, 
In sight or sound, in taste or smell diverse 
More hateful reared, more hideous, and obscene. 515 

But since such powers exist not, since a bound 
Is stampt on all things, we must own, convinced. 
That primal seeds in shape are bounded too. 

From frost to fire, from fire to winter's &ost, 
All, all has limits : heat and cold intense 520 


Th' extremes creating ; while progressive warmth 

Fills up, between, the modalated scale. 

Thus each degree, though varying, varies not 

For ever, by extremes adverse confined. 

Combustion here, and there the polar ice. 525 

But mark this truth, a truth connected close. 
That all primordial seeds, of shape alike. 
Alike are endless ; for though few the forms 
Those seeds admit, yet finite were themselves 
Th' ENTIRE of things, a doctrine erst disproved, 530 

Were finite too, by bounds surmountless chain^. 

Come, then, while thus, in short, but sweetest verse. 
We prove them infinite ; prove hence alone 
The world's vast fabric lives, cemented strong 
By blows re-active unremitted urged. 535 

Few are the forms the casual sight surveys 
Of brutes exotic ; and, with us, but small 
Their unproHfic power : yet foreign cUmes, 
And realms far distant, view each class complete, 
Boundless in number. Thus, though seldom here 540 
Heaves the huge elephant his ponderous limbs. 
Prince of the savage tribes ; yet myriads guard, 
As with an ivory mound, all India's sons ; 
A mound no power can pierce. Such the vast stores 
That Nature boasts in orders deemed most rare. 545 

Yet could Creation's utmost scope produce 
A form unparalleled by all that breathes. 
Alone and individual, — ^were the base 
Not infinite whence first the monster sprang, 
How sprang he then at all ? nor birth were his, 550 

Nor e'en, though bom, the power to nurture life. 
But grant the primal atoms whence alone 
Such individual springs, were finite found. 
How, when, and where, by what concerted plan. 
What power innate, could e'er those atoms meet, 555 

Through ocean, scattered of ungenial seeds ? 
These time could never join. As when the main. 
Worked into ftiry, many a mighty ship 
Wrecks ruthless, and towards every coast impels 
Masts, yards, and streamers, cordage, sails, and helms^ 560 
And planks disparted, teaching as they fioat 


What dangers lurk unseen ; what snares to lore 

Unthinking mortals ; — and forewarning load 

To fly the smooth temptation, nor e'en once 

Trust the false waves, though decked in loudest langh : 566 

So, should'st thou make the primal seeds of aught 

Once finite, instant the tumultuous war 

Of adverse atoms, through the boundless void 

Drives them far distant — never more to meet. 

Or met, cohere, or e'en, cohering, grow ; 570 

Facts without which Creation's self would fail, 

As all must thus proceed, augment, mature. 

And hence the primal seeds of all that live 

Must, too, be boundless, whence each want is fed. 

Nor can the mortal motions that wear out 575 

The varied forms of things, with utter doom, 
Prevail for ever : nor e'en those, reversed. 
Of genial power, that quicken into life. 
Can, through perpetual time, that life sustain. 
Thus war eternal, midst the seeds of things, 580 

With equal triumph reigns ; now here, now there. 
The vital powers o'ercoming, and o'ercome. 
The sigh funereal mingles with the bleat 
Of babes just bursting to the light of heaven ; 
Nor night o'er day, nor mom o'er night prevails, 585 

But marks the discord — Infancy's shrill cry 
Mixt with sick moans, the apparitors of Death. 

This too, attentive, treasure in thy mind : 
That nought the sight surveys, the soul conceives, 
Flows from one class of primal seeds alone. 590 

Whate'er exists is compound ; and the more 
The latent powers, the energies it boasts, 
The more complex its nature ; reared to life 
From seeds more various, and of various shape. 

First Earth herself th' essential atoms holds 595 

Of streams and fountains, whence the main renews ; 
Holds in herself the secret seeds of fires. 
Oft the brown heath wide-parching, unperceived, 
And oft, like ^tna, blazing to the day : 
And holds each embryon, whence, to glad mankind, 600 
Springs the gay com, the blossomed fruit-tree springs, 
Or whence the brutal tribes that roam at large 


Draw their green banquets, and possess their shades. 

Hence mighty Mother op th' Immortal Gods, 

Of brutes, and men, is Earth full frequent feigned. 605 

Her the sage bards of Greece, in ancient song. 
Paint drawn by lions in a car sublime : 
Hence, teaching how, in ether poised, she hangs, 
Unpropt by aught beneath ; the savage beasts 
They yoked and reined, to demonstrate how sure 610 

The wildest young a mother's cares may tame ; 
And, with a mural crown her brows they bound, 
Since with her towers she guards man's civic rights. 
Thus deckt, tremendous, round from realm to realm. 
Still moves the solemn pomp, by all adored. 615 

Her many a state, from holiest legends, call 
Parent of Ida ; and with Phrygian nymphs 
Surround, her fair attendants ; Phrygian termed, 
Since these the climes where first, as fame reports. 
The field was cultured, and the harvest rose. 620 

Her priests are eunuchs — emblem this devised 
To teach that sons rebellious to their sires, 
Or those the sacred fame that dare traduce 
Of her who bore them, never shall themselves, 
Worthless and vile, by gods and men abhorred, 625 

Boast aught of babe to glad their longing sight. 
With vigorous hand the clamorous drum they rouse 
And wake the sounding cymbal : the hoarse horn 
Pours forth its threatening music, and the pipe 
With Phrygian airs distracts the maddening mind, 630 
While arms of blood the fierce enthusiasts wield 
To fright th' unrighteous crowds, and bend profound 
Their impious souls before the power divine. 

Thus moves the pompous idol through the streets. 
Scattering mute blessings, while the throngs devout 635 
Strew, in return, their silver and their brass, 
Loading the paths with presents, and o'ershade 
The heavenly form, and all th' attending train 
With dulcet sprays of roses, pluckt profuse. 
A band select before them, by the Greeks 640 

CuRETES called, from Phrygian parents sprung, 
Sport with fantastic chains, the measured dance 
Weaving infuriate, charmed with human bloody 


And madly shaking their tremendous crests. 

These picture, haply, the Dict^an train, 645 

Alike CuRETES termed, as fame reports, 

Who drowned the infant cries of Jove in Cretb, 

When round the boy divine, in arms they danced. 

Boys still themselves, and beat to measured sounds 

Their clashing shields, lest Saturn the shrill shriek 650 

Should trace, and Rh^ba shed eternal tears. 

Thus these the matron-goddess now precede : 

Or else, perchance, they paint how every breast 

Should burn with patriot fire, and every arm 

Prove the firm guardian of a parent's years. 655 

All these, though pageants well-devised, and bold. 
Will wander still from philosophic fact. 
For, far from mortals, and their vain concerns. 
In peace perpetual dwell th' immortal gods : 
Each self-dependent, and from human wants 660 

Estranged for ever. There no pain pervades, 
Nor dangers threaten ; every passion sleeps, 
Vice no revenge, and virtue draws no boon. 

Meantime the earth sensation never knows ; 
But, blest with the rude principles of things, 665 

In various mode hence various forms she rears. 
Call, if thou choose it, the resounding deep 
Neptune, and Ceres term the golden grain ; 
Be Bacchus wine, its vulgar source forgot, 
And e'en this mass of senseless earth define 670 

Parent of gods ; no harm ensues, — but mark, 
'Tis fiction all, by vital facts disproved. 

Thus varies earth in product ; and, aUke 
In primal seeds, thus varies all she bears. 
The steed, the steer, the fleecy flock that range 675 

Beneath the same pure sky, from the same fount 
Their thirst that quench, and o'er the flowery lawn 
Crop the same herbage, differ still, through time. 
In form generic ; each parental stamp 
Retaining close, from sire to sire propelled. 680 

Such the vast variance of primordial seeds ; 
Through every herb, through every fountain such. 
Each form, moreo'er, of animated life 
Compounded, flows from muscle, bone, and nerve, 


Vein, heat, and moistnre ; yet e'en these comprise 685 
Full many an atom, each, of shape unlike. 

Thus fire itself is complex ; for if nought 
Deep blend besides, the germs, at least, combine 
Of heat, smoke, ashes, and translucent light : 
And reasoning thus, thy vigorous mind may deem 690 
Still powers beyond lurk deeper, though unknown. 

Of the same substance, as the fragrant gums 
Burnt o'er the altar to th' offended gods, 
Emits both taste and odour, hence from seeds 
Educed, of various figures ; odours oft 695 

Piercing the nerves that tastes essay in vain. 
And tastes where odours fail : facts that evince 
Their forms diverse ; and prove that seeds unlike 
Rear the mixt mass difiused through all that lives. — 

Mark but these fluent numbers ; many a type 700 

To many a term is common ; but the terms. 
The numbers culled, as differing these from those, 
From different types evolve : not so diverse 
That the same type recurs not through the whole, 
Or that, recurring, it recurs alone 705 

From types too bounded ; but from types alike 
Free to each term, yet ever new combined. 
Flows the vast change, th' harmonious system flows. 
Thus, through the world, the primal seeds of all, 
To all things common, re-arranged diverse, 710 

In myriad forms shoot forth ; and herbs, and men. 
And trees umbrageous own the same fixt source. 

Yet not in endless modes combine the seeds 
Of things at random ; many a monster else 
Would start tremendous, the fair frame of man 715 

Sprout forth half formed, and trunks of trees have souls. 
Shapes then would swarm half earthly, half marine, 
And Nature's all-prolific womb propel, 
With breath of fire, Chimaeras ; things the sight 
Meets never, since from seeds, and powers precise, 720 
All spring to life, and thus preserve their kinds. 

Then all must spring, since all, from every food, 
To every tribe adapted, straight digests ; 
And, blending with each limb, the train renews 
Of acts appropriate ; while th' ungenial mass 1*1^ 


Meets earth unchanged ; or if, perchance, absorbed. 
Flies off impalpable through pores extreme. 
Void of all union, and for life unfit. 

Nor deem each animated tribe alone 
Such laws avows — all nature feels their force. 730 

For since the difference 'twixt created things 
Is total, their primordial seeds in form 
Must differ too : not that they ne'er commix 
Of equal shape, but e'en when mixt that still. 
From re-arrangement, the result is changed. 735 

Nor only in their forms thus vary seeds 
Primordial ; but, alike, in weight, and power. 
In concourse, motion, intervening space. 
And close connexion ; changes that define. 
Not men and brutes alone, but bound secure 740 

From ocean earth, and earth from heaven sublime. 

But haste we, many a truth lies yet unsung 
Culled from my own loved labours. Deem not thou, 
When aught of substance black or white the view 
Solicits obvious, — deem not, in the germs 745 

Of embryon matter, black or white inheres. 
Or aught besides of tint, where aught occurs, 
Rousing the vision ; since the seeds of things 
Live void of colours actual or conceived. 
This should'st thou doubt, contending nought exists 750 
Through the wide world but must evince some hue. 
The doubt flows groundless. He, whose sightless orb 
Ne'er drank the day enlightened, still perceives 
Whate'er exists, though tints elude his ken. 
Hence not essential colours to the form 755 

Of things created : frequent e'en ourselves. 
Mid the deep shade of night, by touch alone 
Prove what surrounds us, every hue extinct. 

All hues, moreo'er, to all by turns convert ; 
A change primordial seeds can ne'er sustain ; 760 

Since something still through nature must exist 
All change defying, lest th' entire surveyed 
Fall into nought ; for that which once admits 
Mutation dies, its pristine powers destroyed. — 
Tinge, then, with caution, the prime seeds of things, 765 
Lest, hence, thou ope the doors of death to all. 


But though material atoms thus live void 
Of hue ; still many a differing form is theirs, 
Whence hues they gender, and their variance stamp. 
Much, then, import th' arrangement, and the powers, 770 
The kinds, connexions of primordial seeds, 
Positions, impulse, and effects impelled ; 
Since, hence, with ease the mind may, instant, trace 
Why what is black this moment, should, the next. 
Pour o'er the view with alabaster dye. 775 

Thus, when loud tempests tear the tortured main, 
The dashing surge is robed in dazzling white, 
This may'st thou fathom hence, and prove precise 
Why, oft though black, from combinations new 
Of its primordial atoms, added these, 780 

And those withdrawn, oft, too, the deep should wear 
A vest contrasted, whitening. to the day. 
But were its primal atoms tinged themselves 
Black, or but blue, concussion ne'er could change 
The fixt result ; nor turn the black or blue 785 

To the pure polish of the marble bust. 
Nor urge from seeds of varying tints, perchance. 
Springs, when combined, the main's resplendent face ; 
As in the cube mechanic many ^ shape 
Diverse unites to rear its ffame complete. 790 

For as the keen sight in the cube surveys 
Those varying figures, so the splendid deep, 
Or aught of equal lustre, would evince 
The varying tinctures whence that lustre flows. 
The differing forms, moreo'er, the cube contains 795 

Mar not its unity, but differing hues 
A blended tinge create, by each diversed. 

A cause like this, too, all effect destroys ; 
Since white or black springs not from seeds so dyed, 
But seeds commixt of various dyes possest. 800 

Though, doubtless, white flows rather from the want 
Of each existent tincture, than from seeds 
With black, in part, imbued, or aught besides 
Of equal contrast, and as firm a foe. 

And, since all colours live but in the light, 805 

Were hues essential to the seeds of things 
These, too, would die in darkness : for, resolve, 


What hues exist beneath the midnight gloom? 

Hues bom of sun-beams, changing but their shades 

As, playful, changes the refracted ray? 810 

Thus the gay pigeon, as his plumes he waves, 

Drinks in new tinctures from the noon-tide blaze : 

Now glows the ruby, and now, tinged with blae;^ 

Sports the green emerald o'er his glossy neck. 

Thus, too, the peacock, as direct, or bent 815 

Falls the full beam, wears each prismatic dye. 

Since, then, th* impinging light each hue creates. 

So, without light, each, instant, must expire. 

And as the stimulus the sight that strikes 

Varies, from things that varying dyes educe, 820 

Black, white, or aught besides, and nought imports, 

Change how it may, th' existing hue, but sole 

The different figures whence those hues are reared : 

Hence useless colours to the seeds of things. 

From varying forms by varying frictions roused. 825 

Since, too, no seeds defined with tints are stained 
Defined alike, and every shape concurs 
In all that springs, whatever the hue evinced. 
Whence flows it, then, that every class alike 
Reflects not every tincture ? — whence that crows 830 

Robe not in white from seedl that white create ? 
Or that the downy swan, in black arrayed. 
Or hues as hideous, ne'er the sight appals ? 

As things, moreover, to parts minute divide, 
Th' anterior tincture fades. Thus fades away, 835 

To dust impalpable reduced, the dye 
Of gold refulgent : thus the Tyrian woof. 
Frittered to threads, its purple pride foregoes ; 
Hence proving clear that hues from things concrete 
Evanish total ere to seeds dissolved. 840 

From many a substance sound, or odour fine. 
Flies never ; nor the race of man bestows 
Odours, or sounds on all things. Judge then, hence. 
That, since not all things the keen sight discerns, 
Full many a substance, too, as void exists 845 

Of varying hues, as these of scent, or sound : 
Things, than which nought the mind more clear perceives, 
Whate'er the powers possest of, or denied. 


Nor deem primordial seeds devoid alone 
Of hues prismatic. Heat, and cold severe, 850 

Moisture, and sound, these, too, they never know ; 
Nor aught of fluent odours, to the sense 
Hateful or sweet. Thus when, to please thfe fair. 
Some rich perfume the skilful artist plans, 
Drawn from the fragrant nard, the dulcet powers 855 

Of marjoram, and myrrh, with studious heed 
From the pure olive first a juice he seeks 
Void of all scent, for nature such prepares, 
Lest, with th' effluvia thus selected choice, 
Aught else combine, and mar th' harmonious whole. 860 

Thus void of scent primordial seeds must spring. 
Thus void of sound ; and hence nor scent, nor sound, 
Can give to things created : for themselves 
Nought can transmit but what themselves possess. 
And hence, moreover, the powers of heat, or cold, 865 

Vapour, or taste, these never can bestow, 
Nor aught alike destructive, aught surveyed. 
Viscous, unfirm, or fragile ; aught educed 
From bodies soft, putrescent, or relaxed ; 
These thou must sever from primordial seeds 870 

If things created on a base be built 
Immortal, whence the world's vast fabric lives, 
And nought to nought can waste with utter death. 

This full premised, now, Memmius, mark what flows ; 
That all the sentient forms the sight surveys, 875 

Whatever their powers, from senseless atoms spring. 
This every fact of every day, if scanned. 
Far from resisting, proves a truth most firm ; 
That sentient things, things void of sense create. 

Thus into life th' insensate dunghill rears 880 

The race of worms, when once the mingling shower 
Wakes the warm ferment through the putrid mass, 
Thus all things change to all things ; foliage, fruits. 
And the gay glebe to flocks, and herds convert ; 
And flocks, and herds to man ; and man, in turn, 885 

Feeds the foul strength of birds, and barbarous beasts. 
From every food, thus Nature's chemic power 
Builds up the forms of life ; in every class 
Thus wakes the senses every class avows ; 

2 A 


As through the winter-stack full oft she spreads 890 

The rushing blase, and turns the whole to fire. — 
Seest thou not hence, then, of what vast concern 
The modes in which primordial seeds combine. 
Act, or re-aot, give motion, or accept ? 

This creed what hinders ? what perverts thy mind, 895 
And locks thy senses from a truth so plain 
That sentient things from things insensate flow ? 
What but that sto^s, and stones, and earth's dull clod. 
Boast no sensation though alike educed ? — 
Yet mark, attentive, the sage muse ne'er yet 900 

Has urged that all things doubtless must alike 
Spring forth percipient, and with sense endued : 
But that of vast concern, as hence alone, 
Sensation ceaseless flows — the modes diverse 
Of motion, order, form, with which, through time, 905 
Primordial atoms blend : — modes the dull clod 
Knows not, its frame unorganized and rude. 
Though the dull clod, or sapless root as dull, 
When the moist shower the putrid strife has roused. 
Themselves the vermin race in crowds create : 910 

Changed, then, their nature, from arrangements new. 
And full empowered perceptive life to rear. 

Those, too, who hold that sentient forms throughout 
Spring but from sentient seeds, those seeds must deem 
Soft and unsolid, since unsolid all, 915 

And soft each region, where sensation reigns, 
Th' interior bowels, and the flesh without ; 
And hence such seeds must doubtless waste to nought. 

Yet grant their dates eternal : such must then 
The total sense possess of things they rear, 920 

Or sense of separate parts : but parts alone 
Have no perception, nor alone can live. ^ 

Each leans on each ; the loose dismembered hand 
Drops powerless ; nor can aught itself sustain. 
From the full form, the total sense that flows. 925 

What then remains but that each seed exists 
An animal complete, endowed throughout 
With vital functions ? but resolve, how then 
Prove they the immortal principles of things ? 
Whence draw the power, possest by nought that breathes, 


To live through time, and brave the attacks of fate ? 931 

But grant e'en this : their combination still 
No forms could rear, but those of sentient life ; 
Nor men, nor herds, nor savage beasts produce 
Aught but themselves ; the sense generic shown . 935 
Varjdng as varies the generic frame. 

Nor urge that sentient ^eeds, at times, perchance. 
Lose all sensation, and insensate live ; 
Why with an attribute so soon destroyed 
Robe them at all then ? Rather, mark how soon 940 

The insensate yolk incipient life betrays. 
And springs a vital chick : mark, as the muse 
Has earlier sung, how from the warm ferment 
Of earths putrescent, by the clouds bedewed, 
The vermin nations rise, with soul replete, 945 

Thus spreading sense where sense was none before. 

Nor deem sensation senseless seeds create 
Sole from some change anterior, long educed 
Ere into birth the sentient being springs. 
What more fallacious ? since nor birth complete 950 

Nor aught of change can Nature's self create 
But from the sympathy of primal seeds : 
Nor, till the frame percipient be combined. 
Can e'er perception flow ; since wide through space. 
In earth, in air, in streams, and lambent Are, 955 

Are spread the rude materials, unarranged. 
And void of social bond, whence first exists 
Each vital motion, whence each guardian sense 
Springs, and the complicated frame protects. 

When too, abrupt, falls some tremendous blow, 960 

Throughout the system suffers, every sense 
Of soul and body discomposed alike. 
Then fails the arrangement of primordial seeds. 
Each vital action fails ; and, shook severe 
Through every limb, the principles of life 965 

Dissolve each fond connexion, quit their post, 
And through th' external pores fly ofl* at large. 
For what but this can force extreme effect ? 
The dread solution, and the death of all. 

But oft, when less the violence displayed, 970 

The vital motions left may triumph still, 

2 A 2 

356 LucBETnrs. book n. 

And quell the mighty tumult, and recall, 

From the rude grasp of fate, each active power 

Marshalled anew, and everj sense relume. 

For else, why rather should those powers retreat 975 

Back from destruction with recruited strength, 

Than still proceed, and burst the bars of life ? 

As pain, too^ springs when, midst th' interior frame, 
Or limbs extreme, by sudden force convulsed 
Each vital atom shakes through all its course, 980 

But yields to pleasure when the shock subsides, — 
Since primal seeds can ne'er such shock sustain, — 
No pain they know, nor e'er the fruit can pluck 
Of dear delight ; hence nought of sense is theirs. 

But if, that things sensation may possess, 985 

Their seeds primordial must possess the same,— 
Say, from what seeds, then, springs the race of man ? 
From those, forsooth, incited quick to laugh. 
Those down whose cheeks perpetual tears distil. 
And those deep-versed in causes and effects, 990 

Discussing grave the seeds that rear themselves. 
For grant this system, and whatever exists 
Must spring from seeds minuter, endless urged. 
And draw, progressive, every power displayed 
Of thought, or laughter, from the parent stock. 995 

This if thou smile at, and contend that things 
With power endowed of laughter, speech, and thought 
Still rise from seeds that no such powers avow. 
Why not concede, then, sentient things alike 
May flow from seeds of total sense devoid ? 1000 

All spring from heaven, ethereal, all that live : 
The sire of all is Ether : he, full oft, 
In dulcet drops descends of genial rain 
And the bland Earth impregnates. Timely, then, % 

Rises the glossy blade, the joyous leaf 1005 

Shoots forth, and man and beast, in countless tribes. 
Fed from the various banquet of the fields, 
Live their gay hours, and propagate their kinds. 
Maternal, hence, is Earth most justly named. 
Thus all things rise, thus all again return : 1010 

Earth takes what earth bestowed ; and back to heaven 
Remount the ethereal dews from heaven that fell. 


Yet death destroys not the prime seeds of things, 

But scatters only ; atoms hence commix 

With stranger atoms, every form commutes, 1015 

And every tint ; perception springs amain, 

And, instantaneous, wastes again to nought. 

Of such vast moment are the modes diverse 

In which primordial seeds their posts arrange, 

Act, and re-act, give motion, and accept : 1020 

For deem not seeds thus floating most minute 

Through the vast whole, now obvious to the view, 

Now quick disperst, can ne'er eternal live. 

Such then the moment, as already urged, 

With which the types, these numbers that compose, 1025 

Change their positions, and retreat, or blend. 

Thus the same letters, or with variance small, 

Heaven, earth, and water, seas, and suns express. 

Fruits, plants, and mortals ; common are the tjrpes, 

The terms but change from combinations new. 1030 

Thus change material things : their primal seeds 

In site, connexion, interval of space. 

Position, motion, weight, attractive power. 

In these as varying, varies the result. 

Now bend thy mind to truths profounder still : 1035 
For stranger doctrines must assault thine ear, 
And a new scene of wonders yet unfold. 
Whate'er is new, though obvious and defined. 
Grains not an easy credence ; but when once 
Flies the fresh novelty, th' unsteady soul 1040 

Yields its full faith to facts mysterious most. 

The vault of heaven cerulean, spangled thick 
With stars, and with th' effulsive lustre cheered 
Of sun and moon refulgent — were at once 
This scene celestial o'er the race of man 1045 

To burst abrupt — how would the nations start ! 
What wonders, then, be traced ! with what vast toil 
Would e'en the sage the prospect preconceive ! 
Yet now, full sated with the scene sublime, 
Man scarce lifts up his listless eyes to heaven. 1050 

Cease, then, alarmed by aught profound, or strange. 
Right reason to reject ; weigh well the proofs 
Each scheme advances ; if by truth upheld 


Embrace the doctrine ; but, if fiedse, abjure. 

Urged thus, by truth, — ^beyond the world's wide walls 1055 

Since space spreads boundless, the redundant mind. 

Free in its flights, pants, ardent, to discern 

What fills those realms where sight can never soar. 

And first, th' entire of things, above, below. 
Search where thou wilt on every side alike 1060 

Spreads unconfined : this, as already taught, 
Right reason proves, and many a clamorous fact. 
Then deem not thou, since thus perpetual space 
Flows infinite, and infinite the seeds 
That, from exhaustless founts, in endless modes 1065 

Fly through the void, by endless motions urged. 
Deem not this visual system of the heavens 
Alone exists, unparalleled by aught, 
And that all matter elsewhere sleeps supine. 
Since too of its own nature the vast mass 1070 

Sprang forth spontaneous, rousing every power 
To every mode of motion, rashly oft. 
Oft vain and fruitless, tiU, at length, it formed 
Th' unchanging rudiments of things sublime. 
And heaven, and earth, and main, and mortals rose : — 1075 
Hence doubly flows it, other systems still. 
Like ours, must deck the vast ethereal void. 
Enfolded in its avaricious grasp. 

Ample, moreo'er, the matter thus required. 
The place at hand, the cause efficient full, 1080 

Whence new creations may for ever spring. 
Since, then, so boundless the great mass of seeds 
That endless ages ne'er could cast th' amount, — 
Since the same power presides, the nature stiU 
That reared this visual system, and alike 1085 

Those seeds can mould to systems such as ours — 
The fact flows doubtless, mid the void immense, 
That other worlds in other parts must rise. 
Peopled with reasoning, and with brutal tribes. 

Add, too, that nought, through universal space, 1090 
Springs single, the sole progeny produced. 
The sole sustained ; still countless every class, 
Those, chief, percipient : the wild mountain herds, 
The race of man consociate, the mute fish 


With quivering fin, and all th' aerial tribes. 1095 

Hence, too, nor heaven, nor earth, nor sun, nor moon, 

Nor the broad main, nor aught besides, alone 

Can live, but each unlimited in kind. 

Each the same substance, the same seeds of death, 

Bears in its frame, that stamp the ranks diverse II 00 

More obvious, gendered by connubial love. 

These truths avowed, all Nature shines at once, 
Free in her acts, no tyrant to control, 
Self-potent, and uninfluenced by the gods. 
For, O ye powers divine I whose tranquil lives 1 105 

Flow free from care, with ceaseless sunshine blest, — 
Who the vast whole could guide, midst all your ranks ? 
Who grasp the reins that curb th' entire op things ? 
Turn the broad heavens, and pour, through countless worlds, 
Th' ethereal fire that feeds their vital throngs ? 1110 

Felt every moment, felt in every place. 
Who form the louring clouds ? the lightning dart, 
And roll the clamorous thunder, oft in twain 
Rending the concave ?— or, full deep retired, 
Who point, in secret, the mysterious shaft 1115 

That, while the guilty triumphs, prostrates stem 
The fairest forms of innocence and worth ? 

Long after the wide world had risen, the sun 
Shot his young beams, and earth and sea rejoiced 
In infant being — still primordial seeds, 1120 

From the vast compass of th' entire, conjoined ; 
Conjoined from every part ; hence earth and main 
Increased ; hence the broad mansions of the heavens 
Spread wider ; and th' ethereal dome was filled 
With new-born air; for all, harmonious, blend 1125 

Kinds with their kinds, and thence those kinds augment. 
Earth from the seeds of earth, from fiery, fire. 
Air from aerial, from the dewy, dew : 
Till all-prolific Nature rears at length 
To full perfection the vast frame of things, 1130 

And the gorged system can no more absorb 
Than what flies casual from th' external pores. 
Then boasts the whole completion ; Nature, then, 
Restrains all progress, every power matured. 

For all with gradual growth that swells, and thus 1 135 


Climbs, bj degrees, the scale of life adult. 

Far less emits than wliat its frame receives. 

Wide through the system flows the genial food 

Towards every part disperst : yet not so wide 

That much transudes external, and the day 1140 

Thus loses larger than the day digests. 

For still, though much evanish, ampler still 

The nutriment that spreads, till the full form 

Gains, by degrees, its point of perfect power. — 

Then back, by gradual march, its strength declines, 1145 

Its fond perfection, and, from day to day. 

Melts all its vigour. — This the ceaseless course 

Of things created. But those chief, with speed. 

Waste into nought that boast a bulk immense ; 

Since wider, here, the surface whence, each hour, 1 150 

Flies off the light effluvium, nor with ease 

Winds the fresh food through all the mighty mass, 

By ceaseless strife exhausted, and a store 

Asking far ampler than the i^tore received. 

Thus all must perish, unsupplied within, llo5 

And, from without, by blows tumultuous urged ; 

Blows that, resistless, from whate'er adjoins. 

Ply their full vigour till the victim yields. 

Thus shall the world's wide walls hereafter sink 
In boundless ruins : thus, though yet sustained 1160 

By food appropriate, and preserved entire. 
For not for ever will her powers digest 
The due recruit, nor Nature's hand supply. — 

E'en now her glory fades, and the faint earth. 
That erst upreared such giant forms of life 11 65 

In every class profuse, — scarce now protrudes, 
With utmost toil, a scant and puny race. 
For deem not thou some golden chain from heaven 
Each tribe conducted down to realms below ; 
Nor from the boisterous billows of the main 1 170 

That mortals sprung : Earth from herself produced 
The various ranks that still herself sustains. 

Then, too, spontaneous, from the soil she reared 
Those luscious fruits, those vines that gladden life ; 
And crowned with pasture, and with glossy corn, 1 175 

Those fields where man now toils almost in vain : 


Where faints the steer, the plonghman faints fatigued, 

And the keen share so wastes, mechanic art 

Can scarce supply th' exhaustion : — such the call 

For labour now, so foods forbear to rise. 1180 

Thus musing, the rude husbandman shakes oft 

His weary head ; his thriftless pains bewails. 

Thriftless too sure : and, while his wandering thought 

Weighs, with the present, the fair times elapsed, 

Envies the lot the men of yore enjoyed. 1 185 

Then, luckless planter of degenerate vines ! 

His day he curses, then all heaven he tires. 

Muttering that earlier times, though virtuous more. 

Should, thus, have more been favoured, — ^thus have reared 

An ampler harvest e'en from narrower farms,— 1190 

Heedless that all things by degrees must fail. 

Worn out by age, and doomed to certain death. 

BOOK in. 

O Glory of the Greeks ! who first didst chase 

The mind's dread darkness with celestial day. 

The worth illustrating of human life — 

Thee, glad, I follow — ^with firm foot resolved 

To tread the path imprinted by thy steps ; 5 

Not urged by competition, but, alone. 

Studious thy toils to copy ; for, in powers. 

How can the swallow with the swan contend ? 

Or the young kid, all tremulous of limb. 

Strive with the strength, the fleetness of the horse; 10 

Thou, sire of science ! with paternal truths 

Thy sons enrichest : from thy peerless page, 

Illustrious chief ! as from the flowery field 

Th' industrious bee culls honey, we alike 

Cull many a golden precept — ^golden each — 15 

And each most worthy everlasting life. 

For as the doctrines of thy godlike mind 
Prove into birth how nature first uprose, 


All terrors vanish ; the blae walls of heaven 

Fly instant — and the boundless void throughout 20 

Teems with created things. Then too we trace 

The powers immortal, and their blest abodes ; 

Scenes where the winds rage never — unobscured 

By clouds, or snow white drifting, — and o'erspread 

With laughing ether, and perennial day. 25 

There nature fills each want, nor aught up-springs 

To mar th' eternal harmony of soul. — 

Yet nought exists of hell's infernal reign : 

Nor hides the solid earth the scenes from sight 

Spread through the void beneath. — On these vast themes 20 

As deep I ponder, a sublime delight, 

A sacred horror sways me — Nature thus 

By thy keen skill through all her depths unveiled. 

Since, then, we £rst have sung the make minute 
Of primal seeds ; how, in spontaneous course Z5 

Re-active urged, their various figures fly, 
And, hence, how all things into life ascend. 
Next let our daring verse the frame unfold 
Of soul, and reasoning mind ; — and chase, far chase 
Those fears of future torment that distract 40 

Man's total being ; with the gloom of death 
Tinge all things ; nor e'en suffer once the tide 
Of present joy to flow serene and pure. 

For though, full oft, men boast they far prefer 
Death to disease, or infamy of name, 45 

Assert they know the soul but springs from blood. 
Or, if the humour urge them, is but air. 
And hence, that useless all the lore we bring : — 
Oft flows the boast from love of praise alone. 
For when of home debarred, from every haunt 50 

Of man cut off, with conscious guilt o'erpowered. 
Midst every ill such boasters still survive : 
Still fell new victims, and th' infernal powers 
Implore with black oblations ; through their breast 
Religion thus with ten-fold force propelled. 55 

Through doubtful dangers, hence, through straits severe 
Pursue the race of man ; then sole ascends 
Truth from the lowliest bosom, then alone 
Flies all profession, and the fact unfolds. 


E'en restless avarice, and love of fame, 60 

So oft to deeds unrighteous that seduce. 
And spread the growing guilt from man to man, 
By ceaseless toil urged on, and night and day, 
Striving the crowd t' o'ertop — these pests of life 
Draw half their vigour from the dread of death. 66 

For infamy, contempt, and want severe. 
These chief embitter mortals ; these, they deem. 
Death's foremost train ; and, studious these to shun, 
Far off they fly, still wand'ring from the right. 
Urged on by fear, and kindle civil broils, 70 

And murder heap on murder, doubling thus. 
Ceaseless, their stores insatiate : raptured high 
When breathes a brother his last, languid groan ; 
And with mistrust, through every nerve alarmed. 
Joining the feast some jovial kinsman forms. 75 

From the same source, the same deep dread of death. 
Springs Enyt poisoning all things : mortals, hence, 
Lament to power that this, to glory that, 
Crown'd with the people's plaudits should ascend. 
While all unnoticed, mid the crowd obscure 80 

Themselves still jostle ; pining every hour. 
For names, for statues ; and, full oft, so strong 
From dread of death, hate they the light of heaven. 
That, sick at heart, through their own breast they plunge 
The fatal steel : heedless that this alone, 85 

This pungent dread, engenders all their cares, 
Nips the keen sense of shame — ^turns friends to foes. 
And bursts the bonds that harmonize the heart. 
For, goaded hence, hell ever in his sight, 
Man oft betrays his country ; and, for gold, 90 

Yields up the reverend form that gave him birth. 
For as the boy, when midnight veils the skies. 
Trembles and starts at all things — so, full oft. 
E'en in the noon, men start at forms as void 
Of real danger as the phantoms false 95 

By darkness conjured, and the schoolboy's dread. 
A terror this the radiant darts of day 
Can ne'er disperse. To truth's pure light alone. 
And wisdom yielding, intellectual suns. 

First, then, the mind, the spirit named at times^ VQ^ 


That which controls, which measures sentient life. 

Forms of this mortal make a part as clear 

As the keen eye, the finger, or the foot 

Here cleave we firm, though many a sage contends 

The mental sense no part specific frames, 105 

But springs the vital product of the whole. 

This the Greek schools term harmony — ^a sense 

Of living power while still th' essential soul 

No point appropriates — ^as corporeal health 

Flows not from sections, but the form entire. 110 

Thus, deem they, springs the mind ; a tenet fraught. 

If right we judge, with error most absurd. 

For oft th' external frame disease sustains, 

While all escapes within : and thus, reversed, 

The mind oft sickens while the body thrives : 115 

As, when the gout the tortured foot inflames, 

The distant head still boasts its wonted ease. 

When, too, sweet sleep o'er all the wearied limbs 

Spreads his soft mantle, and locks every sense. 

Still something stirs within us — something urged, 120 

E'en then, to various motions, and alive 

To joy's glad impulse, or fictitious fears. 

Yet more ; to prove the soul a part exists 
Constituent of the body — to subvert 
This fancied harmony — mark oft how life 125 

Mid the dread loss of many a limb endures ; 
While instant as the vital heat but ebbs, 
The vital breath flies ofl" — pulsation stops, 
And heart and limb all lifeless lie alike. 
Hence may'st thou judge that not in every part 130 

Dwells the same portion of percipient power. 
Nor health from each flows equal ; but that those 
Chief nurture life, and check its flight abrupt. 
Reared from aerial seeds, or fluent heat. 
As these exist, then, heat and vital air, 135 

Health through the members sickens or abounds. 

This proved precise — that soul, that mind exists 
Part of the body — let such sages still 
Hold the term harmony — deduced, perchance, 
From the sweet chords of Helicon ; let such 140 

Still something mean, whate'er that something be. 


No name of theirs expresses : thou, meanwhile, 
Quitting such contests, mark what yet remains. ^ 

The soul, the mind, then, one same substance forms 
Minutely blended ; but, in vulgar phrase, 145 

That call we mind, or spirit, which pervades. 
As chief, the heart's deep avenues, and rules 
The total frame. Here grief, and terror spring, 
Here pleasure plays ; and here we hence conceive 
Dwells mind, or spirit ; while the remnant soul, 150 

Through every limb diffused, the mind's dread nod 
Obeys, and yields submissive to its will. 
Of its own powers, mind reasons and exults, 
While soul, like flesh, can never rouse alone. 
As oft the head, or eye, some anguish keen 155 

Sustains, while yet the general frame escapes, 
So, in itself, the mind, full oft, endures 
Rapture or pain, while yet the soul at large. 
Spread through the members, nought of change perceives. 
But when the mind some shock severe subdues, 160 

The total soul then sympathizes : then. 
Should deadly horror sway o'er all the frame 
Spreads the cold sweat, the livid paleness spreads. 
Clouds dim the sight, the palsied tongue is mute. 
Tingles the ear, and every limb dissolves. 165 

Oft, too, from mental terror faints the frame : 
Whence may'st thou mark how close the bond that kniti 
The soul and spirit ; this exciting that. 
And that, when roused, deep-rousing every nerve. 

Hence prove we, too, that both alike exist 1 70 

Corporeal : — hence, since every member yields 
With quick submission to the joint behest : 
Since bursts from sleep the body, since the face 
Obsequious varies, and the total man 
Feels the full sway profound ; for nought can act 175 

Where touch subsists not, nor can touch subsist 
Void of corporeal base : — can we, then, doubt 
That soul, that spirit must corporeal spring ? 

In all, moreo'er, of ease or anguish keen 
The body feels, the assenting mind partakes. 180 

Thais, when some deadly dart through many a nerve. 
Mid many a bone, tremendous, winds its way 


Quick faints the spirit : — a fond wish to die 

Now sways, and now the native love of life. 

]V4*aterial, hence, the mental frame must live, 185 

Since by material arms so soon assailed. 

Now list attentive, while we next unfold 
Its make mysterious, and to sight educe. 

First, then, we finn maintain the mind results 
From seeds of matter, most minute and smooth. 190 

This hence we prove, that nought so swiftly speeds 
As what the mind determines and completes ; 
The mind, whose keen rapidity o'erpowers 
All that the sight marks instantaneous most. 
But what thus rapid moves, from seeds must spring 195 
Most exquisitely subtile, and rotund, 
Roused into action by minutest force. 
Thus moves the fluent stream, urged on with ease. 
Since reared from atoms polished, and exile, 
While the tough honey, of compacter frame, 200 

More tardy flows, and ampler force demands. 
For more tenacious here the total mass. 
From heavier seeds engendered, tenuous less. 
And less globose. Thus zephyr's gentlest breath 
Wide scatters, oft, the seeds the poppy rears, 205 

Heaped in the sun-beam, — while the grosser mass 
Of congregated stones, or missile darts 
Feels no impression. Hence material things 
Move brisk or sluggish, as from atoms reared 
Light and globose, or denser, and more rough. 210 

Since then the mind, in every act, we trace 
Most voluble, from seeds of subtlest size, 
Eotund and light, its mystic mal^e must spring : 
A fact, O friend to truth ! thou oft shalt find 
Of utmost moment in what yet remains. 215 

Hence learn we, too, of what attenuate frame 
The mind consists ; and to what trivial space 
Must shrink its texture if compacted close — 
That, when in death the wearied body sleeps. 
And soul and spirit wander from their post, 220 

E'en then the sight no diminution marks 
In weight or figure ; death usurping sole 
The warm-breathed vapour, and the vital sense. 


From seeds minutest, hence, the soul entire 
Must flow, — through all the frame profusely poured ; 225 
And, e'en when fled, still leaving every limb 
Its wonted weight, its figure most precise. 
So, from the juice of Bacchus, when flies off^ 
Its flower ethereal, from the light perfume 
When mounts the essential spirit, or from man 230 

Th' excreted lymph exhales — ^the curious eye 
Nought marks diminished, — the same weight survives, 
Th' same fixt bulk, since from minutest seeds 
Springs the light scent, the ethereal spirit springs. 

Hence doubly flows it why the mind's pure frame 235 
Must, too, be reared from seeds of subtlest size, — 
Hence, as its flight to visual change creates. 
But bulk alike, and substance still endure. 

Yet not unmixt its nature : the light gas 
Breathed from the dying, in its texture blends 240 

Heat, air, and vapour, ever each with each 
Compacted ; vapour, in its ample pores. 
Absorbing heat, and heat ethereal air. 

Triple the substance, hence, the soul that builds ; 
Yet e'en the whole perception ne'er can form ; 245 

For nought in each subsists of power t' excite 
Those sensile motions whence perception flows. 
Hence some fourth substance, doubtless, must we deem, 
Conjoint existing ; which, though void of name, 
Springs from minutest atoms, lightest most 250 

And most attenuate ; deep-endowed with power 
Of fleetest speed, and hence, that first begets 
Those sensile movements that the frame pervade. 
This first begets, as formed from subtlest seeds. 
Next heat the incipient action, vapour next 255 

Partakes, and air posterior, till the soul 
Rouses throughout : then flows the blood, then feels 
Each vital organ, — ^till, through every bone. 
E'en to its central marrow, winds, in turn. 
The sinuous rapture, or the sense of pain. 260 

Yet pain, thus deep within, can never pierce 
With keen corrosion, but the total man 
Shakes from his basis — ^life no more subsists. 
And the light soul through every pore flies oC 


Hence less profound descends, in general ills, 265 

Th' excited action, and man still survives. 

And here, in phrase appropriate, would we prove 
In what firm bonds, what various modes, the make 
Of each with each commixes, but the dearth 
Of terms select restrains us ; yet attend 270 

While thus our utmost efforts we essay. 

Each primal substance, then, with each coheres 
In every act so firm that nought conceived 
Can sever ; nought can central space admit ; 
But as the powers they live of one joint frame. 275 

As the fresh victim blends in every limb 
Heat, taste, and odour, while the total builds 
But one compacted mass, so here, alike. 
But one same nature flows from heat and air, 
And mystic vapour, and the power unnamed 280 

That rears the incipient stimulus, and first 
Darts sentient motion through the quivering frame. 
Far from all vision this profoundly lurks. 
Through the whole system's utmost depth diffused. 
And lives as soul of e'en the soul itself. 285 

As with each limb the general spirit blends, 
Though ne'er discerned, so subtle and so few 
Its primal seeds — so, through the spirit, spreads 
This form ineffable, this mystic power, 
Soul of the soul, and lord of mortal man. 290 

Thus, too, commixt must vapour, heat, and air, 
Live through each limb united ; and, though oft 
Each rise o'er each triumphant, still uprear 
One frame harmonious, lest the power of air. 
Of heat, or vapour, each from each disjoined, 295 

Mar all sensation, and fly off dissolved. 

Heat springs superior in the mind enraged, 
When burns the total system, and the eye 
Darts forth its lurid lightnings : vapour chill 
The ascendance gains when fear the frame pervades, 300 
And ruthless Horror, shivering every limb ; 
While the pure air, of tranquillizing power, 
Smooths all the visage, and the soul serenes. 
Heat sways, as urged already, in the form 
With acrid breast, that rouses soon to ire ; 305 


Chief in the rampant lion, whose proud heart 

Bursts with impetuous roaring, nor can bound 

Th' infuriate tide that ceaseless raves within. 

For ampler vapour mark the timid deer : 

Quick spreads its chilling dew through every limb 310 

In many a tremor quivering ; while the ox 

Proves, through his placid life, a temper formed 

From air supreme. Him ne'er the torch of ire 

Maddens abrupt in clouds and smoke involved, 

Nor shuddering fear transfixes ; but, remote, 315 

'Twixt both he stands, and lifts his honest front. 

The trembling deer, the lion gaunt and grim. 

Thus varies man : though education trim 
Add its bland polish, frequent still we trace 
• The first deep print of nature on the soul, 320 

Nor aught can all — erase it : ever, .whence. 
This yields to sudden rage, to terror that. 
While oft a third beyond all right betrays 
A heart of mercy. Thus, in various modes, 
The moral temper, and S3rmphonious life 325 

Must differ ; thus from many a cause occult 
The sage can ne'er resolve, nor human speech 
Find phrase t' explain ; so boundless, so complex, 
The primal sources whence the variance flows ! 
Yet this the muse may dictate that so few 330 

The native traces wisdom ne'er can rase, 
Man still may emulate the gods in bliss. 

Thus through each limb th' impressive spirit spreads. 
Lord of the body, the prime fount of health. 
Thus with each limb in league so close combines 335 

Nought void of death can sever them in twain. 
As the clear frankincense its fond perfume 
Can ne'er desert till both together die, 
So, from the flesh, the spirit and the soul 
Part not till each one common fate dissolve. 340 

So live they mutual, so, from earliest birth. 
In intertwined existence, that apart. 
Nor this nor that perception can possess, 
The joint result of each, by effort joint 
First kindled, and through all the frame diffused. 345 

This frame, moreo'er, alone can never spring, 

2 B 

370 LtrcKETros. book m. 

Can never thrive, the dread attack of death 

Can never conquer. For, with aim sublime. 

Though the light vapour from the tepid Ijmph 

Fly off profuse, while yet the lymph itself 350 

Exists uninjured — the deserted limbs 

Not harmless, thus, can bear the soul's escape, 

Doomed to one ruin, and one common grave. 

So, from their first crude birth, the vital acts 

Of soul and body each solicits each 355 

With fond contagion, from the earliest hour 

The new-formed fetus quickens in the womb. 

No power can sever them devoid of death. — 

Since life but fiows, then, from the two combined. 

Combined alone their natures must subsist. 360 

Hence those who hold the body never feels, 
But sole the spirit through the body poured. 
Each vital fact oppose : for how, resolve. 
Could man e'er deem the body crowned with sense 
But from such facts instructed and confirmed ? 366 

True — body feels not when the spirit flies. 
For sense from each springs mutual, and, in death, 
Not sense alone is lost, but much besides. 

To deem the eyes, then, of themselves survey 
Nought in existence, while th' interior mind 370 

Looks at all nature through them as alone 
Through loop-holes, is to trifle — sight itself 
The creed absurd opposing every hour. 
For oft the eye-ball dares not meet the day, 
The flood of light overpowering : but were eyes 375 

The mind's mere loop-holes, toil were never theirs. 
Then too, each portal the reflected beam 
Must more obstruct than usher ; — and, removed, 
Th' exulting mind must drink a double day. 

Nor be the sacred doctrine here advanced 380 

Urged by Democritus, that soul extends 
Atom for atom, through the total frame. 
With grosser body : for as less of size 
The soul's primordial seeds than those that rear 
Th' organic structure, so in number too 385 

Yield they, — less freely through the limbs diffused. 
Hence ma/st thou rather deem the soul's pure seeds 


Placed at such interyals as just suffice 

To rouse alone when needful, through the frame, 

Percipient tnotions. For full oft the dust 390 

Blown by the breeze, or fine fugacious chalk, 

Lights on the limbs unheeded : so, at eve. 

The dews we feel not, nor the silky threads 

By dexterous spider spun from spray to spray 

That twine around us, — nor the tattered web 395 

From some old roof that on the hair descends, 

Nor the soft down of feathers, nor the goss 

Sportive and light, that scarcely falls at last. 

Nor live we conscious, frequent, of the tread 

Of animalcules, or the secret path, 400 

O'er all our frame, the busy gnat pursues. 

For many a primal seed, that rears at large 

Each member, must be stimulated first. 

Ere the keen atoms of the soul, hence roused, 

Engender sense, through every severing space . 405 

Blending, rebounding, and reblending still. 

But 'tis the mind guards chief the gates of life, 
And than the soul with ampler vigour sways. 
For, without mind or spirit, soul itself 
In no one portion through the man can live 410 

E'en for a moment : as companion fond 
With speed it follows, dissipated wide. 
And leaves the limbs beneath the ice of death : 
While he whose mind, whose spirit safe subsists. 
Still holds existence, though th' exterior form 415 

Throughout be mangled ; e'en though much of soul, 
Though every limb be lost, he still survives 
Deep in the remnant trunk ; the vital air 
Still breathes, and lingers out his joyless hours. 
Thus, though the visual orb be wounded, still, 420 

If safe the central pupil, sight remains : 
Where'er descends the blow, should this alone 
Elude its vengeance, ruin ne'er ensues. 
But, if of this the least existent point 
Once suffer, though the total else escape, 425 

Light fails immediate*, and dread darkness reigns. 
Such the connexion 'twixt the soul and mind. 

Now mark profound : to teach thee how this ««v>!^ 

2 B 2 

%J ,^ 


lU^tn. ankie sms: periBL. — sexr tae maae 430 

SifitL pour iLTtL zmniba^ tboBr TIiHSinong iBVtii 
W4JI wijTtJrr. sdc witi: sweetes; iabciiir fnllnd 

Here ^ liik'e impon : and was ^wheti we nzge 

Ti«e bifiL is OKirtaL ti:i§ tbe xoiiid inchiiipis : 435 

?> jcL ti*eir join: bood. tadr ek»e oonnexian socfa. 

I' ix sft. Xiftving prav«d. taez^ this jctcennate power 
Ff (Hi: feubtiest atoms reared, minuipr £0* 
1 liHB tiiUve of water, aooke. or booram misL 
^Aijfjh mucL in «peed h conqoexs. and. irr forse 440 

Fiur Ik:^ ii rous^ 10 actiao-— for inll ofi 
K'eD tije Ikint piianiasmE of soch forms alone 
'ILe soul excites, af when, in deep repoBe. 
TLh fragrant altar emoke^. and Taponrs rich 
Kioe to tii^ view — a seiiBe. no doubt, indneed 44d 

> rom the liglit phantasme of substantial fomiB 
Floating around us — this already proved, 
#Judge next, feince h'mph when bursts th" endomng vase. 
yiowa at each fracture, since fugacious smoke, 
hiii<;« vapourg vanish into viewless air, 450 

Judge how the soul must dissipate amain. 
How booner perish, and its primal seeds 
Sp<:cdi<ir diohoh e, wiien once the flesh tbev quit. 
Foj' uliLvji this fle&h, the vase the soul that bounds, 
iiouudu it no more when bruised by fordgn foixje, 455 

Or of itij life-bhx>d robbed, — ^bow canst thou deem 
'I'Jj' unsolid etlAcr, or that aught more rare 
'i'han flesh itself^ the soul can e'er confine? 

'l^iui miud, iJioreo'er, as every hour confirms. 
Springs with the body, with the body grows, 460 

A lid yields ahke to years. The tottering babe. 
Weakly of limb, betrays a mind as weak : 
JiiiL, as his strength matures, his vigorous soul 
iiipens ia reason, till in equal hour, 

As age o'ereoraes, rfnd every organ fails, 465 

Kail too his mental powers : then raves the tongue, 
Tiiu judgment raves, the total man declines, 
And, in a moment, all alike expires, 
llenoe the whole nature of this reasonin^: frame 


Must all dissolve, as smoke in ambient air, 470 

Hence since, as urged above, all springs alike. 
All ripens gradual, and together droops. 

As, too, the body feels full oft the force 
Of bitter pains, and many a huge disease — 
So strives the mind with grief, and cruel care, 475 

Hence proved partaker of one common fate. 

In many an ill, moreo'er, the flesh sustains, 
The judgment suffers: the distracted wretch 
Now raving wild, and sinking, now profound 
In stupid slumber ; his fixt eyeballs stare, 480 

His head hangs heavy, sound no more is heard. 
Nor the fond visage noticed e'en of those, 
Who yet, yet calling back to life, bedew 
With many a tear his mouth and cheeks suffused. 
Hence must the mind too, with the body cease, 485 

Since by diseases thus alike transfixt^ 
For grief, for sickness, equal, the dread work 
Of death accomplish, as each hour confirms. 

Why, too, when once the pungent power of wine 
Flies through the system, and the blood inflames, 490 

Why torpid grows each organ ? reels each limb ? 
Falters the tongue ? rebels the maddening mind ? 
Why swim the eyes ? and hiccough, noise and strife, 
And each consociate ill their force combine ? 
Why but that deep the frantic bowl disturbs, 495 

Ev'n in the body, the secluded mind ? 
But what can once be thus disturbed — what once 
Impeded — should the hostile power augment, 
Must perish, doubtless, void of future days. 

Oft, too, some wretch, before our startled sight, 500 
Struck, as with lightning, by some keen disease, 
Drops sudden : — by the dread attack o'erpowered, 
He foams, he groans, he trembles, and he faints ; 
Now rigid, now convulsed, his labouring lungs 
Heave quick, and quivers each exhausted limb. 505 

Spread through the frame, so deep the dire disease 
Perturbs his spirit ; as the briny main 
Foams through each wave beneath the tempest's ire. 
He groans, since every member smarts with pain, 
And fi'om his inmost breast, with wontless toil, 510 

374 LucaETius. book in. 

Confused, and harsh, articalation springs. 

He raves, since soul and spirit are alike 

Disturbed throughout, and severed each from each. 

As urged above, distracted by the bane. 

But when, at length, the morbid cause declines, 615 

And the fermenting humours from the heart 

Flow back — ^with staggering foot the man first treads, 

Led gradual on to intellect and strength. 

Since, then, the soul such various ills endures. 
E'en in this solid frame, — such various modes 520 

Feeb of severe distraction— canst thou deem, 
In the wide air unsheltered and forlorn. 
Mid boisterous winds, it ever could exist ? 

And as the mind, like body, when diseased 
Heals oft, and owns the genial power of drugs, 525 

Hence springs a proof that mind is mortal too. 
For he the secret soul, or aught besides, 
Who fain would change, must lessen or augment 
Its primal atoms, or combine anew : 

But things immortal ne'er can be transposed, 530 

Ne'er take addition, or encounter loss. 
For what once changes, by the change alone 
Subverts immediate its anterior life. 

Sickening, or healed, then, by balsamic herbs, 
The seeds of death alike the soul betrays. 535 

So triumph facts o'er all the sophist's art 
Precluding answer, doubly silenced here. 

Of man, moreo'er, by slow degrees, we mark. 
Limb after limb consume : first the pale toes. 
The nails grow livid ; in succession next 540 

The feet, and legs ; till gradual, o'er the frame, 
Creeps the chill track of death. — Since, then, the soul 
Thus suffers, nor one moment can resist 
Sound, and entire, its make must mortal prove. 
But should'st thou deem, when thus assailed, it shrinks 545 
Back through each member, to one point condensed — 
Then must that point, towards which the soul retreats, 
Throng with increased sensation : but as this 
Time ne'er evinces, it must still disperse 
Like tattered shreds by every wind destroyed. 550 

Yet grant the converse, and the soul allow 


In those concentrates, gradual who decline ; — 

Say what imports it whether wide it waste 

From limb to limb, or perish from one point ? 

Still more and more sensation fails, and life 555 

Less and still less its dwindled power sustains. 

Since, too, the mind forms part of man, and dwells 
In one fixt spot, as dwells the eye or ear, 
Or aught besides of sense that governs life ; 
And since, moreover, the sight, the hand, the nose, 560 
Once severed from us, feel not, nor exist. 
Dissolving instant — so the mind alike 
Lives not alone without th' exterior frame. 
Which like a vessel holds it, or aught else. 
If aught there be, of bond compacter still. 665 

So to the body cleaves th' adhesive mind. 

The vital power, moreover, of each subsists 
Alone conjoint, for mutual is their life. 
Nor without body can the soul fulfil 

Its destined functions, nor the body live 570 

Of soul devoid, participant of sense. 
As the bare eye, when rooted from its orb. 
Sees nought around it, spirit thus and soul 
Nought can accomplish singly ; — hence diffused 
Through every vessel, organ, bone, and nerve^ 575 

Of all that breathes. Nor part their primal seeds 
With long interstice, fatal to the power 
Of resilition ; rather so confined, 
As sensile motions fits them best t' excite : 
Such as, at death, when mixt with vacant air, 580 

'Twere vain to expect, of all restraint devoid. 
For air itself must body first become 
Compact and vital, ere the secret soul 
Its pores can tenant, or those motions urge, 
Urged, during life, through all the sentient frame. 585 
Hence doubly fiows it why the soul and mind, 
One in themselves, of body when disrobed, 
And scattered boundless, instant should dissolve. 

Since, too, the body the departed soul 
Endures not, but with putrid smell decays, 590 

Canst thou, then, doubt the soul, when thus effused, 
Like smoke flies total, every seed disperst ? 


And that th' external frame thus sinks defiled 

In putrid death, since from their wonted posts 

Urged 'off, through every passage, every pore, 595 

Press the percipient seeds, from every Umb, 

From every memhrane o'er the system spread ? 

And seest thou not, from many a fact hence proved. 

That through the total body lives the soul, 

And e'en in body severs, seed from seed, 600 

Ere thence expelled, and scattered into air ? 

E'en during life the fractured soul seems oft 
From force abrupt half-hurried from her home ; 
Each vital function failing, and the face, 
As though in death, all pallid, changed, and wan. 605 

Such the deep swoon evinces, when within 
Sinks the faint spirit, and each prostrate power 
Pants for its final doom. Such then the force 
That mind and body oft alike unnerves 
That, but the least augmented, death ensues. 610 

Can, then, the soul, thus impotent of frame. 
When once disrobed, abandoned, and exposed. 
Through the wide air, to every boisterous breeze. 
Can it then triumph, dost thou firmly deem. 
Not o'er all time, but e'en one moment live? 615 

Nor do the dying e'er the soul perceive 
Eush out entire, when exiled from the heart, 
The bronchial tube first filling, then the throat, 
And mouth successive ; but at once it fails 
In its own region, as each sense alike 620 

Fails in its destined theatre of power. 
Were, too, its date immortal, man no more. 
At his last hour, would mourn the severing blow: 
Charmed to throw off his vesture, like the snake, 
Or, like the stag his antlers, and be free. 625 

Why, too, are wisdom and the mind restrained 
To one sole organ, while the feet, the hands. 
These never gender ? why but that each spot 
Exists for some fixt function — nor can e'er 
Pervert its destined view ? while, through the whole, 630 
Nice order reigns by nought preposterous marred. 
So flows the tide of things, nor water fire. 
Through time, creates, nor fire the sparry frost. 


Were, too, the soul immortal, and possest 
Of ancient powers when severed from the flesh, 635 

Then with new organs must it, or we err, 
Be instant re-endowed ; for thus alone 
Th' infernal shades can tread the shores of hell. 
Thus painters feign them, and the hards renowned 
Of ancient times — thoughtless that eyes, and nose, 640 
And hands, and mouth, to the divided soul 
Can jie'er pertain, nor e'en the sense of sound. 

And since the total system soul pervades. 
And vital action — when some blow severe 
Midway divides it, part from part, abrupt, 645 

Then must the soul alike be cleft in twain. 
Driven with the mangled body. But what thus 
Admits partition, and to foreign force 
Yields e'en but once, immortal ne'er can be. 

Oft, arm'd with scythes, the warlike car, we read, 650 
Hot with repeated slaughters, so abrupt 
Severs a limb, that o'er the field it lies 
With life long quivering, while the hero still 
Fights on, of pain unconscious : his high soul 
Absorbed so total, he nor heeds the loss 655 

Of his broad shield, or shield-supporting hand. 
Whirled in the strife of coursers, and of cars. 
From this the sword-arm drops, while still the rock 
He climbs impetuous ; that, perchance, to earth 
Felled, on one leg yet vainly strives to rise ; 660 

While, at his side, his amputated foot 
Its trembling toes still moves. Thus, too, the head. 
Whene'er dissevered from the vital trunk. 
Still keeps its look of life, with open eye 
Still stares, till all the gradual soul expire. 665 

So should thy blade some serpent's length of tail 
Divide, quick-brandishing its furious tongue, 
The severed parts writhe, agonized, and broad 
Scatter the purple fluid ; while himself 
Looks round revengeful, and, from pain severe, 670 

Gnashes the segments of his mangled frame. 

Shall we then say that each divided part 
A perfect soul contains ? then with such souls 
The total form, ere injured^ must have thronged. 


Hence severs, then, the soul, though close combined, 675 
Anterior, with the body ; and hence, too, 
Both, must alike be mortal, since alike 
To parts divisible with equal ease. 

Grant, too, the soul immortal, and infused. 
At earliest birth, within us — whence, resolve, 680 

This full oblivion of all past events, 
All former life ? — for if the soul so change. 
That nought remains of memory in its make, # 

A change so total differs scarce from death. 
Thus, what before existed, must have ceased, 685 

And on its ruins sprung what now exists. 

If the light soul, moreo'er, then only join 
The full-formed body, when that body first 
Springs into birth, and treads the porch of life, 
Ne'er can it then, as though diffused at large, 690 

E'en with the vital blood, through all the frame, 
Grow with each growing member : but confined. 
As in a den, in solitude must dwell. 
From the first hour exciting equal sense. 
Hence doubly flows it, souls can ne'er exist 695 

Of birth devoid, nor free from final fate. 
Nor could they, as each daily fact confirms, 
If from without infused, the total frame 
Fit with such nice precision : for so close 
Blend they with every organ, bone, and nerve, 700 

That e'en th' enamelled tooth sensation shares ; 
As oft its ache evinces, or the approach 
Of ice abrupt ; or when, beneath its gripe, 
Grate some harsh pebble mid the subject food. 
Nor thus connected could they e'er retreat 705 

Safe, and uninjured through the sinuous paths 
Of organs, membranes, vesseb, bones, and nerves. 

But, from without, th' insinuating soul. 
If still thou deem through all this frame diffused. 
Then, since diffused, much surer must it fail ; 710 

For what thus flows diffusive, must dissolve. 
And perish, doubtless, forced through every pore. 
As vanish foods, through every mazy gland, 
Through every limb when urged, to different forms 
Converting gradual, so the mind, the soul 715 


Howe'er entire, when first the flesh it meets 

Dissolves by junction ; for through every sluice, 

Through every organ intricate and fine, 

Must percolate its atoms, severed hence. 

And decomposed, — and hence the base alone 720 

Of that which after sways th' external frame. 

Thus must the soul a natal day possess. 
And final grave, an origin and end. 

Fly, too, at death, the soul's pure'seeds entire. 
Or with the body are there still that rest ? 725 

If aught remain, then idly must thou deem 
The soul immortal, since diminished thus, 
And shorn of substance ; but if all escape, 
If not an atom loiter — whence, I ask. 
Rears the putrescent carcass, in its womb, 780 

The race of worms ? or sport o'er every limb 
The boneless, bloodless crowds of things unnamed ? 

If from without thou deem their souls they draw, 
To each a soul entire, unheeding here 
What throngs must flock where dwelt but one before, 735 
Pause yet one moment ere thou thus resolve : 
Such souls must, then, the vermin seeds themselves 
Have wise-selected, and their fabrics reared. 
Or into bodies entered ready formed. 
But nor can reason, if themselves have raised 740 

The wretched buildings, for the toil account. 
Nor tell why thus for hunger, and disease. 
And shivering cold they thirst, or aught besides 
Of ill the body to the soul supplies. 

Yet grant them anxious for such vile abodes, 745 

Still must the structure far exceed their powers. 
Hence reared not by themselves. Nor from without 
Could they insinuate into bodies formed ; 
Since nor adapted to their sinuous pores. 
Nor framed for intercourse, and mutual act 750 

Whence springs the fury that pervades throughout 
The ruthless breed of lions ? whence the craft 
The fox evinces, or the stag's wild fear. 
From sire to son through every race propelled ? 
Whence these and equaJ passions traced at large, 755 

From life's first dawn, generic, through each class ? 


Whence but that some fixt power of mind descends, 

E'en with the lineal seed, through all begot. 

Evolving gradual with the gradual growth ? 

For were the soul immortal, changing oft 760 

To different bodies, different tempers, then, 

Must mark each order ; the Hyrcanian dog 

Oft, then, must dread the high-horned stag's approach ; 

Hawks fly from doves, e'en man himself turn brute. 

And the orute tribes, preposterous, rule the world. 765 

Nor heed the sophistry which here contends 
That souls oft change the body's change to meet : 
For that which changes must dissolve, and die. 
Severed its parts, its order all destroyed. 
Hence souls must, too, dissolve through every limb, 770 
And with the body share one common fate. 

But should'st thou urge that human souls their flight 
To human forms restrain — then, since once wise. 
To folly why relapse ? why spring not boys 
Replete with wisdom ? nor displays the colt 775 

The skilful paces of the steed mature ? 
Why but that some fixt power of mind descends 
E'en with the lineal seed through all begot, 
Evolving gradual with the gradual growth ? 
Nor think the soul, too, weakens in a weak 780 

And puny system, since most surely then 
Doomed to destruction ; by the change sustained 
Shorn of its vigour, and interior sense. 

Why, if endeared not by one common birth. 
Thus should it pant in equal hour to reach 785 

Perfection with the body ? or, reversed, 
Why long for freedom when the frame decays ? 
Fears, then, the soul confinement after death 
Mid the foul members ? or the dangerous fall 
Of its own tottering mansion ? But, reflect, 790 

What lives immortal, danger ne'er can know. 

What, too, so idle, as that souls should throng 
Round each vile intercourse, or beast that bears : 
Immortal souls ! contesting who shall first 
Enter the feeble fetus ; if, perchance, 795 

This not decides them, and all strife precludes. 
That who first gains it, claims a prior right. 


Trees not in ether, not in ocean clouds, 

Nor in the fields can fishes e*er exist ; 

Nor blood in planks, nor vital juice in stones : 800 

But all springs definite in scenes defined. 

So in the bosom lives, and there alone, 

Mixt with its blood, and nerves, the secret mind : 

There only lives, — for could it roam at all. 

Then rather should we through the body's self, 805 

The heel, or shoulder, or where else it chose. 

Oft trace it wandering, than forlorn abroad. 

Since e'en in body, then, the soul and mind 

Are fixt thus definite — ^we amply prove 

That out of body these can ne'er exist : 810 

That when the flesh its certain doom sustains, 

The soul must, too, through every limb dissolve. 

To deem, moreo'er, that mortal can combine 
With aught immortal, — can together live 
Concordant, and in mutual duties blend, 816 

Is full delirium. Can there be conceived 
Aught more unmeet, incongruous, or absurd, 
Than with a mortal that a frame should mix 
Immortal, doom'd to all its weight of woe ? 

What lives immortal, too, must so exist, 820 

Or from its own solidity, empowered 
Each blow to conquer, undivided still, 
As primal atoms, long anterior sung ; 
Or since, like vacuum, of all friction void. 
Free from all touch, by impulse unimpaired ; 825 

Or from the want of circling space, in which 
The severing atoms may dissolve and fall ; 
Such want the boundless whole of nature proves. 
And hence eternal — for no place beyond 
Spreads, where its seeds could waste ; nor, from without, 
Can foreign force e'er enter to destroy. 831 

But nor, as urged above, exists the mind 
All solid, since in all things void combines. 
Nor yet all vacuum ; nor, from the profound. 
Are wanting powers adverse that, into act 835 

Once roused tempestuous, the whole mind derange, 
Or sever total ; — nor deficient space 
Spread widely round, through which, in countless modes^ 


The mental frame may crumble, and dissolve ; 

Hence not precluded from the gates of death. 840 

But shoidd'st thou still the soul immortal deem. 
Since guarded deep from many a mortal wound. 
Safe from full many an insult that assails 
The health exterior, and since many a blow. 
Aimed at its powers, discomfited recoils 846 

Ere scarce ourselves the dread approach perceive. 
Still far thou wanderest ; for the common woes 
Excluding that from body draw their birth. 
Yet pines she anxious for to-morrow's fate, 
Yet shakes with dread, with carking care consmnes, 850 
Or smarts from conscience of committed crimes. 
Add, too, that madness is her own — ^that oft 
All memory fails, and o'er each torpid power. 
Creeps the dull pool of lethargy profound. 

Hence, death is nought, and justly claims our scorn, 8^ 
Since with the body thus the soul decays. 
And as we now, through long anterior time, 
Look back indifferent on the Punic hosts 
That threatened Rome, when, with the din of war. 
All shook tremendous heaven's high cope beneath, 860 
And doubtful hung the scale which power should rule 
Earth, main, and mortals, with unrivalled sway ; 
So when we cease, and soul and body once 
Meet their joint doom whose union formed our lives. 
No ill shall then molest us, — nought alarm 866 

Our scattered senses, and dissevered frame. 
Though earth with main, or main commix with skies. 

E'en could the soul, the spirit still survive 
The wreck corporeal, and perception boast. 
To us what boots it, who exist alone 870 

The joint result of soul and body mixt ? 
To us what boots it should some future time 
Collect our atoms, the dismantled frame 
Restore entire, and e'en with life relume, 
When once the memory of ourselves is fled ? 875 

We heed not now what erst, in time elapsed. 
We have been, nor with anxious heart explore 
What from our dust hereafter may arise : 
For if thou weigh th' eternal tract of time 


Evolved already, and the countless modes 880 

In which all matter moves, thou canst not doubt 

That oft its atoms have the form assumed 

We bear ourselves this moment — ^though the mind 

Recalls not now those scenes of being past ; 

For many a pause the discontinuous chain 885 

Of life has severed, and full many a mode 

Of motion sprung to every s^nse adverse. 

He to whom pain hereafter is decreed 

Must then exist whene'er that pain arrives. 

But as the man, whose atoms erst have lived, 890 

Lives now unconscious of ills then sustained. 

By death since decomposed, and every power 

Of sense and memory scattered — hence we prove' 

Death holds no sting t' alarm us ; that the man 

To be who ceases, ceases from all woe ; 895 

Nor aught imports it that he e'er was bom. 

When death immortal claims his mortal life. 

Should'st thou, then, mark some fool indignant burn 
At this alone, that, when existence fails. 
His corse may moulder, or in flames consume, 900 

Or sate, perchance, the jaws of savage beasts — 
Believe him not : — some secret dread still lurks 
Of future pain, though e'en his lips deny 
That sense or thought can after death exist. 
Thus, if I err not, he conceals his creed, 905 

Believes not life all-ceases, but that still 
Some future self his present will survive. 
For he who, living, shudders at the thought 
That birds or beasts his frame may soon devour, 
That frame divides not, but his self confounds 910 

With his own future corse, whose dread decay 
This self, he deems, must witness and partake. 
Hence heaves his heart indignant at the doom 
Of mortal man : heedless that, after death. 
No other self shall then himself bemoan, 915 

Nor feel the tooth that tears his mangled limbs. 
If, too, the tiger's tusk, the vulture's beak. 
Be deemed an ill — what lighter ill results 
From the red fury of the funeral pyre ? 
The fulsome tide of honey, o'er the frame 92Q 


Poured, cold and stiffening in the marble tomb ? 

Or the sunk grave, by earth's vast pressure crushed ? 

** But thy dear home shall never greet thee more ! 
No more the best of wives ! — thy babes beloved. 
Whose haste half-met thee, emulous to snatch 925 

The dulcet kiss that roused thy secret soul. 
Again shall never hasten ! — nor thine arm, 
With deed heroic, guard thy country's weal ! — 
O mournful, mournful fate ! " thy friends exclaim^ 
" One envious hour of these invalued joys 930 

Robs thee for ever ! " — But they add not here, 
" It robs thee, too, of all desire of joy :" 
A truth, once uttered, that the mind would free 
From every dread, and trouble. " Thou art safe ! 
The sleep of death protects thee ! and secures 935 

From all th' unnumbered woes of mortal life ! 
While we, alas ! the sacred um around 
That holds thine ashes, shall insatiate weep. 
Nor time destroy th' eternal grief we feel ! " 
What then has death, if death be mere repose, 940 

And quiet only in a peaceful grave. 
What has it thus to mar this life of man ? 

Yet mar it does. E'en o'er the festive board. 
The glass while grasping, and with garlands crowned. 
The thoughtless maniacs oft indignant roar, 945 

" How short the joys of wine ! — e'en while we drink 
Life ceases, and to-morrow ne'er returns ! " 
As if, in death, the worst such wretches feared 
Were thirst unquenched, parching every nerve, 
Or deemed their passions would pursue them still. 950 
Not anxious, thus, mankind the world resign 
At evening hour when soul and body rest ; 
Nor would they though that rest were ne'er to end : 
Nor thus the day's desire pursues their dreams ; 
Though then the seeds of sense not wander far 955 

From sensile movements, scarcely, oft, allayed. 
And quick resumed when starts the soul at morn. 
Of much less moment, then, should death be held 
Than sleep, if aught can less than that which ne'er 
Moment excites whatever ; for the crowd 960 

Of sensile seeds are wider here disperst ; 


Nor wakes he e'er to action, and the day, 
Whose frame once feels the chilling pause of life. 

Were then the Nature op Created Things 
To rise abrupt, and thus repining man 965 

Address — " O mortal ! whence these useless fears ? 
This weak, superfluous sorrow ? why th' approach 
Dread*st thou of death ? For if the time elapsed 
Have smiled propitious, and not all its gifts, 
As though adventured in a leaky vase, 970 

Been idly wasted, profitless, and vain — 
Why quitt'st thou not, thou fool ! the feast of life 
Filled, — and with mind all panting for repose ? 
But if thyself have squandered every boon. 
And of the past grown weary — ^why demand 975 

More days to kill, more blessings to pervert, 
Nor rather headlong hasten to thine end ? 
For nothing further can my powers devise 
To please thee ; — ^things for ever things succeed 
Unchanged, — and would do, though revolving years 980 
Should spare thy vigour, and thy brittle frame 
Live o'er all time : e'en amplier would'st thou then 
Mark how unvaried all creation moves." — 
Were Nature thus t' address us, could we fail 
To feel the justice of her keen rebuke ? 985 

So true the picture, the advice so sage ! 

But to the wretch who moans th' approach of death 
With grief unmeasured, louder might she raise 
Her voice severe — " Vile coward ! dry thine eyes — 
Hence with thy snivelling sorrows, and depart ! " 990 

Should he, moreo'er, have past man's mid-day hour— 
" What ! thou lament ? already who hast reaped 
An ample harvest ? by desiring thus 
The past once more, the present thou abhorr'st. 
And life flies on imperfect, unenjoyed, 995 

And death untimely meets thee, ere thy soul, 
Cloyed with the banquet, is prepared to rise. 
Leave, then, to others bliss thy years should shun ; 
Come, cheerful leave it, since still leave thou must." 
Justly I deem might Nature thus reprove : 1000 

For, through creation, old to young resigns. 
And this from that matures ; nor aught descends 

2 c 


To the dread gulfs, the fjEmcied shades of heU. 

The mass material must survive entire 

To feed succeeding ages, which, in turn, 1005 

Like thee shall flourish, and like thee shall die ; 

Nor more the present ruins than the past. 

Thus things from things ascend ; and life exists 

To none a freehold, but a use to alL 

Reflect, moreo'er, how less than nought to as lOlO 

Weighs the long portion of eternal time 
Fled ere our birth : so, too, the future weighs 
When death dissolves us. What of horror, then. 
Dwells there in death ? what gloomy, what austere ? 
Can there be elsewhere slumber half so sound ? 1015 

The tales of hell exist not in the grave, 
But here, and curse us living. Tantalus, 
With broad, rough rock impending o'er his head. 
And crazed with terror, there is never seen : 
But terror dwells with mortals — fate thej fear, 1020 

And fortune, and a host of fancied gods. 

Nor Tityus there exists, the prey of birds. 
Nor, though he did, could these the victim's breast 
Consume for ever ; e'en though his wide bulk. 
Not thrice three acres merely might extend, 1025 

But cover the vast globe ; nor could he bear 
Eternal pain, nor yield perpetual food. 
But he is Tityus, and by vultures torn. 
Whose anxious breast the rage of love devours ; 
Or aught of passion equal in its force. 1030 

Here, too, is Sisyphus — ^the man who pants 
For public honours, and the giddy crowd 
Caresses ever, ever but in vain. 
For thus to toil for power, itself at best 
A bubble, and that bubble ne'er to boast, 1035 

Yet still toil on — is doubtless to roll back, 
Up the high hill, the huge, stern, struggling stone ; 
That which, the steep peak once urged up, rebounds 
Rapid, resistless, over all the plain. 

Then, too, to feed th' ungrateful mind, and fill 1040 

With every good, while still it craves for more, 
(As feed mankind the seasons in their turn, 
With fruits, and endless beauties, while themselves 


Still riot on, and never have enough,) 

This, or I err, the fable well unfolds, 1045 

Feigned of the damsels doomed, in flower of youth, 

To fill for ever the still leaking urn. 

The FuBiES, Cerberus, and Hell itself 
Of light devoid, and belching from its jaws 
Tremendous fires, live not, nor can they live : 1050 

But well they paint the dread of justice here 
For crimes atrocious, the reward of guilt, 
The scourge, the wheel, the block, the dungeon deep, 
The base-born hangman, the Tarpeian 0115" j 
Which, though the villain 'scape, his conscious soul 1055 
Still fears perpetual, torturing all his days. 
And still foreboding heavier pangs at death. 
Hence earth itself to fools becomes a hell. 

Thus ponder oft, retired : Angus the good. 
E'en he has closed his eyes on mortal things ; 1060 

A man, thou coward ! worthier far than thou ! 
Thousands, moreo'er, like him of crowns possest. 
Have fall'n like him, and all their pomp resigned. 

E'en he who wandered o'er the mighty main. 
Led on his legions, and first oped the way 1065 

To tread on foot th' unfathomed gulfs below. 
He who thus braved the billows, and the storms. 
Has closed his eye-lids, and his soul resigned. — 

SciPio, the war's dread thunderbolt, the scourge 
Of ransacked Tyre, sleeps, like the slave, inhumed. 1070 

Add, too, the founders of the graceful arts. 
And schools erudite ; — add th' immortal bards ; 
Add Homer's self the muses' realm who rules ; 
These all, like meaner mortals, rest in peace. — 

When hoary hairs Democritus forewarned 1075 

His mental powers were hastening to decay. 
Quick he uprose, and midway met his fate. — 

E'en he is fallen, his lamp of life extinct, 
Th' illustrious Epicurus, whose vast mind 
Triumphant rose o'er all men, and excelled, 1080 

As, in the heavens, the sun excels the stars. 

And dost thou murmur, and indignant die. 
Whose life, while living, scarcely death exceeds ? 
Thou ! who in sleep devourest half thy da^^^ 

2 c 2 

388 ixcBsncs. book m. 

XnA^ eVn swike, who aioRst;^ diwrniag still, 1085 

And tDrtanng all th j miad with Twim aliBns ? 
Tboa ! who lamentest; oft, vnkiiowiB^ ^^JV 
Urged ofi, with fear in t niFin r e d dee^ 
And in a maze of mental errors lost? 

Did men bat think, and oft to think Aej aeem, 1090 
That from themaelTes their heaTiest ammw* 
And knew thej too whaxe ihas thpnMr Jf ea 
These boeom rafierings — addom shoold we ae& 
life spent as now each paasing hour portnjs. 
An pant perpetual Fes' thej know not what, 1095 

Nor learn bj searching— rhangii^ their abodes^ 
As thoi^h the change would JeAve their load behind. 

This, from mere listleasness, his maa^ioB fiies ; 
Straight he returns ; — ^'tis listless all abroad. 
That to his rilla posts» with rapid whe^s, 1100 

As though the boildi]^ were in flames^ and called 
His instant aid. — ^No socmer treads his foot 
The soondii^ hall, than, on the sofa thrown. 
He jawns disgusted — or indulges sleep. 
And seeks oblivion ; or, perchance, he starts, 1105 

And towards the town drives back with equal speed. 

Thus each his self would fly, that self which still 
Haunts every step, and every pain creates, 
Heedless of what torments him : which if dear 
The wanderer traced, his restless soul, at once 1 1 10 

The world forsaking, and the world's vain boasts, 
Would scan the Nature op Created Things. 
For little weighs the passing hour of time 
When with eternity compared, that state 
Which, after death, to mortab yet remains. 1115 

Through what vast woes this wild desire of life 
Drives us, afraid ! what dangers, and what toils ! 
Yet death still hastens, nor can mortal man, 
With all his efforts, turn th* unerring shaft. 

Life, through its circuit too, is still the same, 1 120 

Nor can it boast one source of new delight. 
The bliss we covet seems, at distant view, 
To all superior ; but, when once possest. 
It cloys, we spurn it, and another call. 
Yet the same thirst of life corrodes us still, 1 125 


Though doubtful of to-morrow, and the fate 
To-morrow brings^-our blessing, or our curse. 
E'en could we life elongate, we should ne'er 
Subtract one moment from the reign of death, 
Nor the deep slumber of the grave curtail. 1130 

O'er ages could we triumph — death alike . 
Remains eternal — nor of shorter date 
To him who yesterday the light forsook. 
Than him who died full many a year before. • 


PiEKiAN paths I tread untrod before. 

Sweet are the springing founts with nectar new, 

Sweet the new flowers that bloom ; but sweeter still 

Those flowers to pluck, and weave a roseate wreath 

The muses yet to mortals ne'er have deigned. 5 

With joy the subject I pursue, and free 

The captive mind from Superstition's yoke : 

With joy th' obscure illume ; in liquid verse, 

Graceful and clear, depicting all surveyed : 

By reason guided. For as oft, benign, 10 

The sapient nurse, when anxious to enforce 

On the pale boy the wormwood's bitter draught, 

With luscious honey tints the goblet's edge. 

Deceiving thus, while yet unused to guile, 

His unsuspecting lip, till deep he drinks, 15 

And gathers vigour from the venial cheat ; — 

So I, since dull the subject, and the world 

Abashed recoils ; would fain, in honeyed phrase, 

Tuned by the muses, to thine ear recite 

Its vast concerns ; if haply I may hope 20 

To fix thine audience, while the flowing verse 

Unfolds the nature, and the use of things. 

Since, then, our earlier strain the fact has proved 
Of seeds primordial ; how, in various forms. 
Oft differing each from each, at will they roam, 2^ 


Urged on by ceaseless motion, — proved the mode 

Whence all existing, thence exists alone : 

Since, too, the mind's deep nature we have traced. 

Whence first it springs, with body how unites. 

And how^ when severed, to primordial seeds 30 

Again it lapses ; — ^haste we next t' unfold 

Those forms minute, a theme connected close, 

Termed by the learned images of things : 

Forms that, like pellicles, when once thrown off 

Clear from the surface of whate'er exists, 35 

Float unrestrained through ether. Fearful these 

Oft through the day, when obvious to the sense. 

But chief at midnight, when in dreams we view 

Dire shapes and apparitions, from the light 

Shut out for ever, and each languid limb 40 

With horror gaunt convulsing in its sleep. 

For deem not thou the soul can e'er escape 

From hell profound ; that spectres of the dead 

Can haunt the living ; or that aught we feel 

One hour survives when once the stroke of fate 45 

Severs the mind from body, and remands 

Each to th' appropriate atoms whence they sprang. 

Hence hold we firm that effigies of things. 
Fine, filmy floscules from the surface fiy, 
Like peels, or membranes, of whate'er exists ; 50 

The form precise, how wide soe'er diffused, 
Maintaining still the parent body boasts. 
This e'en the dull may learn ; since sight itself 
Marks the light film from many a substance urged. 
Oft loosely floating, as the fume impure 55 

From crackling faggots, or the brighter blaze 
Of red, resplendent furnace ; oft compact. 
And firm of texture as the silken veil 
Thrown from the grasshopper, when summer wanes. 
By many a month worn out ; or that the calf 60 

Casts on his birth-day ; or the spotted robe 
Rent from the snake, that trembles on the brier, 
The brier full oft with spoils like these bedeckt. 
Since these exist, then, floscules rarer still 
May, too, be exiled from the face of things : 65 

For why the grosser, palpable to sight. 


Should rather thus exfoliate, than the flake 

Of finer texture that all sight eludes, 

The mind discerns not ; for such viewless flakes 

Live, doubtless, o'er each surface loose diffused, 70 

Ranged ever equal, and with ampler ease 

Dispelled, since gendered of a lighter frame, 

And in the front of objects fixt supreme. 

For sight not merely bodies marks minute 

Thrown from th' interior, or the base profound, 75 

As proved already, but, like rainbow hues, 

Poured from the surface. This the crowd surveys 

Oft in the theatre, whose curtains broad, 

Bedecked with crimson, yellow, or the tint 

Of steel cerulean, from their fluted heights 80 

Wave tremulous ; and, o'er the scene beneath. 

Each marble statue, and the rising rows 

Of rank and beauty, fling their tint superb. 

While as the walls, with ampler shade repel 

The garish noon-beam, every object round 85 

Laughs with a deeper dye, and wears profuse 

A lovelier lustre, ravished from the day. 

As then the trembling drapery ejects 

Hues from its surface, superflcial too 

From every substance effigies minute 90 

Must stream perpetual, each alike discharged. 

And hence from all things vestiges there are 

Of subtlest texture hovering through the void, 

All sight evading when but simply poured. 

Each essence, vapour, fume, or aught alike 95 

Attenuate, hence alone flows void of form, 
That, gendered deep within, through tortuous paths 
Loose, and disjoined, it struggles to the day ; 
While the light quintessence of utmost hues 
Streams unobstructed as supremely placed. 100 

The main, moreo'er, the mirror, or aught else 
Of polished front, each object full reflects 
With perfect semblance. Whence this semblance fair 
But from supernal images expelled ? 
These, as more gross, we mark ; yet why the gross 105 
Should rather thus exfoliate than the flake 
Of subtler texture, reason ne'er can prove. 


Hence effigies there are from all things poured 

Of nice resemblance, and the £Edrest web ; 

Which, though, when single, from the sight conoealedy 110 

When close reflected in perpetual stream 

From the clear mirror, obvious meet the view. 

Nor can the sophist other cause adduce 

Whence springs the picture so correctly just. 

Come, now, and mark with what attenuate frame 115 
Such pictures live. This the prime seeds of things 
So fugitive to sense, so less than aught 
The keenest sight can pierce, perchance may proTe, 
How subtle these, then, thus the muse explains. 

First, there are insects so minute, the view 120 

Not half their puny members can discern. 
What here are organs ? what intestines here ? 
The globule what that forms their heart or eye ? 
Their tiny limbs ? their tendons ? but o'er all 
What the nice atoms whence the soul proceeds ? 125 

Each part so subtile, so minute the whole. 

Next, each wild herb that from its branches pours 
Ungrateful odours, southernwood severe. 
The rueful wormwood, centaury, or that 
Famed for all cures, termed all-heal by the crowd, 130 
These, by the lightest finger brushed, emit 
Myriads of effigies in various modes 
Void of all strength, wide hovering unperceived. 
Such who can calculate ? what powers of mind 
Scan their light textures, or their woof unfold ? 135 

Yet deem not thou such images alone 
From things themselves emane ; spontaneous, too, 
Spring they in heaven above, combining strange, 
Borne through th' aerial realms in modes diverse, 
Their forms for ever shifting, till at length 140 

Nought lives on earth the phantoms never ape. 
Hence clouds concrete, th' aerial vault serene 
Shadowing with moisture, grateful as it moves : 
Hence, shapes gigantic spread, protruding broad 
Their interposing features ; mountains hence, 145 

And mountain-rocks, torn from their base abrupt, 
Seem oft to hover, blotting now the sun 
With front opposed, now deep diffused behind. 


Gendering fresh clouds, a monster each to view. 

Mark, now, how swift such phantoms form — how swift 
Exhale from all things, and, when formed, dissolve. 151 
A steam there is that from the face of things 
Pours forth perpetual. This, when urged amain 
On porous textures, as the clothes we wear, 
Pierces entire : when bold with wood, or stone 155 

It dares conflict, the subtile membrane breaks, 
Nor aught returns of semblance ; but when flung 
On dense and splendid objects (foremost such 
Shines the pure mirror) nought of these ensues : 
For then nor pierces the light lymph, nor quick 1 60 

Breaks ere the mirror give the semblance sound. 
Hence springs the vision, every object hence, 
Opposed to splendours, pours perpetual forth 
Its mimic likeness ; and, perpetual too. 
Hence the pure effluence that the likeness yields 165 

Must fleetly rush, reiterated urged. 
As from the sun each moment many a ray 
Must flow that things with lustre may be filled, 
So from each object many an image light 
Streams without end ; for, turn howe'er thou please 170 
The splendid plate, still the same semblance springs. 
Punctual in form, appropriate in its dyes. 

Oft, too, the lucid front of heaven serene 
Blackens abrupt ; in subtlest vapours veiled 
So blackens, fancy may conceive all hell 175 

Had with his direst shades the welkin stormed. 
Shivering with horror every human nerve. 
But what such vapours to the films of things ? 
These who can calculate ? what powers of mind 
Scan their light textures, or their woof unfold ? 180 

Thus proved attenuate, mark, benignant, next. 
Their keen rapidity : with what vast speed 
Fleet they through ether, with elastic wing 
Conquering dull time, urged various to their goals. 
This shall the muse in melodies evince 185 

More sweet than prolix ; as the swan's lone dirge 
Flows forth superior to the clamorous croak 
Of countless cranes, by every wind disperst. 

Know, then, th' attenuate substance must move quick*. 



But few th' exceptions. Hence the rapid race 190 

Of light, and lustre from th' effusive sun, 

Since these, too, spring from atoms most minutey 

With ease protruded, by posterior force 

Urged on ; for light for ever light succeeds, 

And floods of splendour floods of splendour drive. 195 

Hence, from like cause, the semblances of things 

Through countless space must instantaneous rush ; 

For equal powers propellant press behind. 

And the same texture rears them that pervades 

Forms most compact, and Alls th' aerial void. 200 

If, too, those particles of things that lurk 

Deep in th' interior, oft sublimely bound. 

And quit the surface, as the sun's pure light, 

And lustre fair, if instant these we view 

Rush through all space, o'er earth and main diffuse, 205 

And heaven's high arch, by utmost lightness winged ; . 

Say, what the speed of atoms placed supreme. 

Poured from the front of things, by nought delayed ? 

Seest thou not these, in the same point of time, 

With swifter flight through ampler bounds must dart 210 

Than the blue radiance that through ether streams ? 

To proofs thus cogent of the rapid race 
Of insubstantial semblances, adjoin 
This fact decisive ; that, when once at night, 
Beneath the spangled concave, gleams the vase 215 

Filled from the bubbling brook, the curious eye 
Marks in the lymph, responsive, every star 
That strews with silver all the radiant pole. 
Seest thou not hence, then, in what point of time 
Th* ethereal image darts from heaven to earth ? 220 

Hence doubly flows it such stupendous forms 
Must crowd th' horizon, and the sight compel, 
Of things defined born ceaseless. From the sun 
Thus heat exhales, cold, dewy damp from streams, 
And the rough spray from ocean, with fierce fang 225 

Gnawing the mound that dares resist its waves. 
Thus sounds, too, hover in the breezy air ; 
And, when the beach we traverse, oft the tongue 
Smarts with the briny vapour : or if chance. 
By dexterous leech, fell wormwood near be bruised, 230 


We taste th* essential bitter, and abhor. 

Thus some light effluence streams from all create, 

Streams forth for ever, void of dull repose, 

Towards every point diffused : for man perceives. 

Where'er his station, sight alike exists, 235 

The sense of fluent odours, and of sounds. 

And as, moreo'er, th' essajdng hand decides 
Oft in the dark an object as precise 
As the keen eye at mid-day, — Whence we deem 
Touch and the sight by equal causes swayed. 240 

Thus, if a cube we handle, and, at night. 
Its shape assure us, what but the mere shape 
Proves the same substance is a cube by day ? — 
Hence shapes, hence images alone create 
All we survey, of vision the sole cause : 245 

And hence from every object forms like these 
Towards every point must radiate ; since the eye, 
Source of all sight, where'er its orb inclines. 
Sees all that moves, in shape and hue precise : 
And since such semblances alone decide 250 

How distant dwells each substance we discern. 
These sole decide ; for every film exhaled 
Drives on immediate the recumbent air 
Placed 'twixt the visual orb and object viewed. 
Then fleets its total column, o'er the ball 255 

Rushing amain, till all its gradual length 
Strikes on the sentient pupil, and retires. 
Hence how far distant judge we things exist ; 
And as an ampler air, and larger tide 
Of friction goad the vision, cautious, thus, 260 

Deem more remote th' objective substance lies. 
While such the speed evinced, at once we teU 
The thing surveyed, its distance and its kind. 

Nor wondrous this, that, though, when singly urged, 
Each separate image viewless strikes the sight, 265 

The parent form springs obvious. When severe 
Blows the fresh breeze, each particle of wind. 
Of bitter cold the sense can ne'er discern. 
But the full body rather : then the frame 
Shrinks as though blows from some exterior foe 270 

Were plied perpetual, every nerve assailed. 


When, too, the finger o'er the polished spar 

Lets fall its weight, it touches then alone 

The crystal hues, and surface ; yet nor hues 

Nor surface feels it, but the hardness sole 276 

Its total body boasts, compact and firm. 

Now next unfold we whence the semblance seen 
In the clear mirror, far beyond recedes, 
Or so pretends, deceptive. Sleights like these 
We trace for ever when th' attentive eye 280 

Peeps in some hall, beyond th' unfolded doors. 
And through their vista marks the scene without. 
In both a twin, a double tide of air 
Strikes on the vision. In the mansion thus 
First floats th' interior ether, bounded close 285 

By the broad portals opening right and left, 
Then light external, and another air 
Assail the pupil, and the real scene 
At last developes. Thus the semblance too, 
The mirror's self projects, as towards the sight 290 

It yet, yet tends, the midway air protrudes 
Placed 'twixt the visual orb and object viewed ; 
Whence first th' aerial tide assaults us ere 
Conspicuous springs the mirror ; which surveyed, 
Next instant flows the semblance from ourselves 295 

Ceaseless exhaled, and from the splendid plate 
Reflected punctual, visiting in turn 
The sentient eye-ball, and in turn its tide 
Of air first forcing o'er the goaded view ; 
Thus doubly distant, and the glass beyond 300 

Painting the mimic image we discern. 
Hence not the meanest marvel can attach 
To forms refiected from the fulgent plain 
Through two-fold airs, by the twin tide resolved. 

The part, too, of the semblance that to us 305 

The right creates, seems, in the mirror, left : 
Hence springs the vision, that when once the film 
Strikes on the level radiance, it rebounds 
Unaltered never, by th' elastic blow 

In every trait reversed : as when we dash, 310 

'Gainst some broad beam, the new-made mask of clay 
Soft yet, and pliant, if with front direct 


It bear the blow, the hollow frame inverts : 
Each feature then transposes, the right eye 
Claims the left side, the left the right usurps. 315 

From mirror, too, to mirror may we spread 
The playful image, till its like, with ease, 
Be thrice, or ampler doubled ; and till nought 
Lurk so retired, so deep behind, so hid 
In tortuous angles, but that many a plate, 320 

Rightly disposed, may yet through every maze 
Drag forth the latent landscape, and at large 
E'en in the mansion's central depths display. 
So glides from glass to glass the semblance true 
By each transposed in order, right and left 325 

Changing alternate, and again restored. 

Mirrors there are, moreo'er, of shape rotund 
With flexile sides like mortals, that present 
To right or left each object free from change. 
Thus solve the problem that the convex plate, 330 

Like a twin mirror, twice the scene reflects * 

Ere yet it touch the vision ; or, perchance, 
Th' approaching image turns completely round, 
A turn the flexile splendour proves precise. — 

Then the light image, too, with us affects 335 

To move responsive, every gesture caught. 
Hence the deception, that whate'er the part 
Of the pure plate relinquished, thence no more 
Flies the fleet semblance ; fate's eternal laws 
Deciding ceaseless that the film propelled 340 

Must bear each variance of the parent form. 

Such are the sleights of mirrors. Mark we next, 
How hates the eye-ball every gaudy glare ; 
How darkens in the sun when poured direct ; 
Such his vast power. Yet here that power alike 345 

Flows from a stream of effigies through heaven 
Impetuous flung, the tender pupil oft 
Wounding severely ; and, at times, so fierce 
Rushes the radiant tide, the total orb 
Bums with the fiery particles contained. 350 

The jaundiced thus, not unaccordant, see 
All clad in yeUow, many a yellow seed 
Forced from their frames, the semblances of thin^ii 

398 ujCBxncs, book it. 

Accosting frequent ; and the lurid eje. 

Deep, too, imbued with its conti^pioiis hne, 356 

Fainting each image that its disc assails. 

Things in the light, though in the daik oaraelTes, 
We mark cofispicnons ; for as the Uack air 
Adjoining, first usurps th' expanded eye. 
Quick flows th' illumined tide, fincmi every shade 360 

Purging the pupil, formed of finer seeds, 
More potent far, more voluble in act 
Hence as at once the visual orb it dears, 
Till then obstructed, and with lustre fills. 
Each floating image, in the light exhaled, 365 

Next rushes, and its stimulus applies. 
But when, reversed, from day to dark we look. 
We see not, for the stream of shadowy air 
That last arrives, of grosser texture wrought, 
Filb every avenue, each optic nerve 370 

Clogs, and the semblances of things arrests. 

View yon square turrets, too, that guard our state 
From hil